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About the Whooping Crane
Western Flock
Western Flock | Eastern Flock

The Western flock is the main flock of the world's endangered Whooping Cranes.

The Western flock is the only natural, wild migratory flock.

The Western flock is the only self-sustaining flock. These birds breed and migrate naturally. Wild parents teach the wild-born babies the migration route.

Size: This flock was down to only 15 survivors in the 1940s. Every whooping crane alive today descended from the 15 surviving whoopers of the Western migratory flock, also called the Wood Buffalo/Aransas flock. This population graph shows the size of the flock as of March 2, 2011—the last accurate count. Biologists then began using a technique called distance sampling to estimate the size of the flock instead of counting individual birds.

Wintering Grounds: Texas, United States
The Western flock spends the winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast. The nearest city is Corpus Christi, Texas. (27N, 97W).

Nesting Grounds: Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, Canada
Each summer, these cranes breed and fledge chicks at Wood Buffalo National Park, which lies on the Alberta-Northwest Territories border in Canada. The nearest town is Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (60 N, 111W).

Migration: The birds migrate about 2,600 miles each spring and each fall. They travel alone, in pairs, or in small groups.

Until reintroduction of a new Eastern flock began in 2001 with ultralight planes to lead the chicks, the Western flock was the world's entire wild migratory Whooping Crane population.

This highly endangered species has been struggling to build its numbers from the all-time low of 15 in the 1940s. It was a joy to celebrate when the Western flock passed the 200 mark in 2004 and passed 250 in 2007!

Population Graph
How many cranes were in the Western Flock as of March, 2011?

Whooping Crane Migration Map



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