Importance of Natural Resources

Whooping Cranes, On the Right Track – Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]

(wind) (music) NARRATOR: Here at the Aransas
National Wildlife Refuge in the shallow bays of the Texas coast
you can find one of the rarest birds in North America. (waves) The endangered Whooping Crane. FELIPE CHAVEZ-RAMIREZ: This
is a species that almost went extinct; it was almost
gone forever from the face of the earth. Depending on what estimates we
can count on 14 to 16 individuals were alive in 1941,
and that, almost disappeared. We still have a very small
population, 300, a species that was almost
gone is slowly coming back. Yah, there seems to be a gap. NARRATOR: Meet biologist
Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, Veterinarian Barry Hartup, DAVE BRANDT: Just something we
made out of necessity I guess. NARRATOR: And biologist
Dave Brandt. (Whooping Cranes call) DAVE: They were here! NARRATOR: They hope to do
something that’s never been done before. DAVE: See how he’s got
one foot in don’t he. NARRATOR: To trap
adult whooping cranes. The plan is to put transmitters
on the cranes and track them with satellite GPS technology. (grass crunches) The team is working with
Wade Harrell from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. WADE HARRELL: We’re going to
learn a lot, in terms of new places that they use that
we didn’t know about before. So I think there will be a real
paradigm shift in how we manage and conserve whooping
cranes going forward. DAVE: They may have not come
till later in the morning. NARRATOR: The first step is
to get the birds to come close to the trap. DAVE: Looks like there they are
approaching and there they say, “Hey, there’s a good
pile of corn here. Let’s have breakfast!” We’ve been baiting these birds
for three weeks now or more getting them
to the spot. Right in the middle
so they have to reach! The whole key to this is
the fact that they are not quite comfortable. FELIPE: The trap that we are
using right now is basically a leg snare. DAVE: I put wet sand
along the sides. FELIPE: It basically consists of
a loop made of monofilament that we put in a hole that we’ve
previously made on the ground. (Whooping Crane call) DAVE: Then we start baiting that
depression and hopefully they get into it and start behaving
the way we need them to behave for actual capture. FELIPE: All right! See you in a few! NARRATOR: While Felipe
climbs into this blind. (radio chatter) BARRY HARTUP: So there are
a lot of birds in the area all of a sudden. NARRATOR: Barry and the
rest of the team stage in a nearby truck. BARRY: So now it’s
a waiting game. NARRATOR: The hope is this study
will help answer some questions. BARRY: Something about how
they’re growing up, are they growing up with
a lot of problems, and that’s why there are
so few of the cranes? Or is there something that
we can do beyond working to conserve they’re winter
and summering habitat? Are there some additional
steps that we can take? (Whooping Crane calls) NARRATOR: On this evening,
the whoopers didn’t fall for the trap. WADE: Give it another 10 or 15
I guess and then we’ll call… BARRY: Yah, and then
we’ll call it. Ah. They never went for the corn. (cranes call) NARRATOR: Trapping may have
hit a snag. SARAH KAHLICH: There is a family
pair out there, you seem em? MATTHEW: Yep! NARRATOR: But some science
on surroundings is underway. SARAH: What we’re doing
right now is doing a habitat assessment of the area. Go! (tape measure peels off) We’re going in to look at the
different vegetation types to see what kind of areas the
whooping cranes like to stay in. MATTHEW: All right stake’s in. SARAH: How many segments
have vegetation covering em? MATTHEW: Four. SARAH: O.K. MATTHEW: This is just an easy
way to get a general idea of the thickness of the vegetation and
the height of the vegetation. SARAH: Even though they are
an endangered species and they have been worked
on for a long time, there is not a lot known about
what they prefer to do on their day to day activities. So this kinda helps us get a
little better data on where they are actually
spending their time. It’s a five. MATTHEW: K. Got it! NARRATOR: And one thing the
habitat study shows, the cranes’ health goes
hand in hand with the health of
this salt marsh. WADE: Salt Marshes are extremely
productive ecosystems. So there is just an enormous
amount of crustaceans, crab, shrimp, and small fish. So there is a tremendous food
resource that they rely on here. DIANE JOHNSON: Right out there
is our marsh! If you’ll look there
feeding on blue crabs. NARRATOR: Bordering the
salt marsh of the refuge… is the Johnson Ranch. Diane Johnson and her family
have put the land into a conservation easement. (wind on prairie) The easement insures that this
land will never be developed. DIANE: We have conservation
easement because we want to preserve the habitat for the
whooping cranes and for all the other animals and keep this bit
of land natural. It will never change. (bird calls) Our land is on St. Charles bay,
which is 240 acres of wetlands for the whooping cranes. (different bird chirps
and calls) NARRATOR: This prime coastal
habitat will always be protected. DIANE: We are
surrounded by nature. And I think it’s our duty
to keep that going, I mean to keep that wild. I think it’s important… ¡importante! NARRATOR: Across the bay
at the refuge… its early morning and
Dave is in the blind. WADE: O.K. boys get ready! (cranes call) DAVE: Got a bird, got a bird! (truck spins tires) BARRY: Look for the
flagging on your right. That’s right here. (crane squawks) I think you have the dominant
male in your hand. K. Good. DAVE: K. PTT ID, 134349. We attach these with two types
of adhesion first one is glue secondary will be pop rivets. So it’s pretty much a
permanent transmitter. My feeling is I think that this
project has long been needed. There has been you know,
very little information, scientifically concrete
information that’s been gathered on these birds. This is enabling us to really
concretely say or specifically say, “Yes here where these birds
are stopping, here’s how long they are spending here.” So it’s some groundbreaking
stuff! BARRY: Taking a look here to
see what kind of condition his feathers are in, his flight
feathers, his outer primaries. What we are doing with
capturing adult birds on the Aransas Refuge has never
been done before. DAVE: Seven point two four. BARRY: So we are learning a lot
about these birds in terms of their movements, their
survival, their overall health. What we can do to further their
protection and conservation into the future. O.K. we are good! FELIPE: You can go now! (crane calls) Ah! Oh yeah, he’s good! (waves) WADE: We’ve got a pair
of whooping cranes here, one adult in the pair is
green over black color band, and blue radio band, I think
they are doing well. NARRATOR: In all the team banded
37 adult whooping cranes. (computer clicks) MATTHEW GONNERMAN:
Twenty eleven o seven. WADE: This project gives us
very fine scaled detail habitat information. So we can actually go and look
at locations where the birds have been, find out what type
of vegetation is there, what type of food source
is there. So we really begin to better
understand what the birds need day in and day out. From their nesting area
in Canada all the way down here to Texas. FELIPE: This is the last
stronghold of the wild whooping crane flock. So it’s very important
from that perspective. This is the core. I really feel a connection to it
and would like to do as much as I can to help the species
and I think this is one good way to get there! (music and cranes call)

Reader Comments

  1. This is an excellent informative video. It let's the public learn something about what is being accomplished to learn more about the endangered whooping cranes.I am so glad that this research is being done on the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock because there is such a large need to better understand this last remaining self-sustaining population. Chester McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

  2. Whooping cranes, sand hill cranes — all beautiful birds. Thanks to the ranchers who appreciate giving them precious room.

  3. Thanks for the information.  We will share it.  Beautiful birds and a wonderful effort being made to maintain their habitat. Keep doing what you are doing!

  4. I took an Environmental Science Class with Dr. Chavez-Ramirez and he is brilliant and extremely passionate about his craft and these wonderful & beautiful birds, the Whooping Crane!! So awesome and he has had a great influence on me. Also, no doubt the work he and the team have done on this magnificent creatures will pay dividends for it's increase in #'s and to be enjoyed for generations to come. A truly win win.

  5. Shame the sensor is not a lot physically smaller. It's quite large with a long aerial practically sticking into his leg.

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