The Refugio County Press first reported on Feb. 14 that the whooping cranes are readying for their 2,500-mile flight to their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada.
Now, seven surveys conducted during December have been finished showing the Aransas Wildlife Refuge 2012-13 population at 257 whooping cranes.
But observations of the cranes outside the Refuge indicate 22 more cranes were living off the Refuge during the surveys.
The Refuge had 283 whooping cranes during 2010-11, a total taken by actual counting of individual birds.
But for the 2011-12 count, a new survey method was used that still needs further refinement, according to the Refuge’s website. But as the surveys are refined, the precision of its results will improve to better manage the flock.
The 2011-12 count at the Refuge was 254 with another 13 spotted around Bayside, Granger Lake and Markham.
The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is located in Aransas, Refugio and Calhoun counties. The Refuge is the primary winter home for the endangered and rare whooping cranes.