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Father Hupp WMA Whooping Cranes

As announced in a press release, Father Hupp WMA in northern Thayer County was closed temporarily on Monday, and remains closed, to protect six Whooping Cranes which are stopping over at this Rainwater Basin wetland.  The “Father Hupp 6” and the “Branched Oak 5” were or are part of a big influx of Whooping Cranes that came into Nebraska on gusty northwest winds as a result of the strong low pressure system that moved across the central Plains last week.   Since the closure and the Whooping Cranes’ presence is public information, NGPC personnel have been continually at Father Hupp WMA.  Below, are a few photos and some video of the Whoopers at Father Hupp WMA.

Area closed sign
Access points at Father Hupp WMA have “Area Closed” signs.
Hupp Whooping Cranes
Father Hupp Whooping Cranes
Hupp Whooping Cranes
The Whoopers have been very active during their stay and interacting with one another quite a bit.
Hupp Whooping Cranes
A steady stream of birders and other interested individuals have stopped by Father Hupp WMA to see the Whooping Cranes from the WMA’s boundary (again, the WMA remains closed to all public access). This is a rare opportunity to safely see Whoopers.

There are actually very few Whooping Crane records from the eastern portion of the Rainwater Basin.  However, a pair also stopped-over at Father Hupp WMA 17-18 November 2012.  Given that we know individual Whooping Cranes will use the same stopover sites on occasion, it is possible one or two of these birds currently at Father Hupp WMA was there in 2012.  Alternatively, it is also possible these six have never been at this site before and they were just blown off course by last week’s strong winds.

As of Thursday morning, the Whooping Cranes remain at Father Hupp WMA.

Good birding!

Nongame Bird Program

Many thanks to NGPC personnel who have been continually at Father Hupp WMA monitoring the cranes.  Also, thanks to NGPC personnel that were involved in restoring and who manage this Rainwater Basin wetland which currently is providing great habitat for these Whoopers and other migratory birds.  Remember, Whooping Cranes are an Endangered Species protected by state and federal law.  Shooting, harming or harassing Whooping Cranes is a violation of those laws.  If you are ever lucky enough to see Whooping Cranes, such as the Father Hupp 6, please be sure to observe the birds from a distance which does not disturb these critically-imperiled birds.  Thanks!

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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