A wetland restoration project in Kentucky has attracted the fancy of endangered whooping cranes.
“Birds are an ecological litmus paper.”
— Roger Tory Peterson
In early November, a pair of whooping cranes were discovered on a property in western Kentucky that was recently restored with NRCS’ help. The restoration to bottom land hardwood wetlands included tree planting and the creation of shallow water areas for migratory wildlife on nearly 900 acres of former cropland that was put into a conservation easement.
The cranes have been residing on the conservation easement since December 2012, roosting and feeding in the shallow water areas. This is a significant sighting because by the 20th century, the majestic bird was nearly wiped out.
Whooping cranes are still critically endangered, but with continued wetland restoration efforts, there is hope for their future.
The great spectacle of Sandhill Crane migration is already underway through the North America’s center. More than 400,000 cranes will pass through the Platte River area alone during the migration season, sometimes in huge flocks of thousands of birds.
They’ll begin to split up into smaller groups as they get closer to their breeding grounds. Cranes mate for life and maintain the pair bond year round by performing courtship dances that can sometimes be observed during migration. Young or unmated individuals may also find partners during migration stopovers such as along the Platte.
If you can’t make it to see in person, you can watch the crane migration at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary on their crane webcam here: http://rowe.audubon.org/crane-cam
Beautiful and elegant, the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus) is native to a relatively small area in South Africa (where it is the national bird).
Populations of this bird have seriously declined since the 1970s for a number of anthropogenic reasons. They face habitat loss, bioaccumulation of toxins from insecticides, and life-threatening collisions with power lines. Conservation programs are now in place to aid the recovery of this species.
The Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis tabida), that make Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in New Mexico, their winter home, will soon be migrating north. Most of these majestic birds typically leave the refuge by Valentine’s Day. Come see them before they leave!
(via: Bosque del Apache NWR) (photo by Bruce Sanford)
Counting Cranes: How many wild whooping cranes are there? Not enough.
by Jennifer S. Holland
Nearly grazing the treetops, a tiny red plane swoops in dizzying circles over the bogs and forests of Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. As pilot Jim Bredy banks hard for another pass, he and his two passengers press their faces against the glass, squinting to spot familiar white smudges on the ground—adult whooping cranes—with russet-feathered young in tow. This wilderness is the summer home of the last wild migratory flock of Earth’s most endangered crane…
This species occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats. It is non-migratory. The Grey Crowned Crane is about 1 m (3.3 ft) tall and weighs 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs). The sexes are similar, although males tend to be slightly larger. Like all cranes, it feeds on insects and other invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, as well as grass seeds. The cranes of this genus are the only capable of roosting in trees, because of the structure of the feet…
This pair of strikingly coloured graycrowned cranes (from africa) appear to having a staring contest as they stand beak to beak. Photographer Vikran Kokeatsiri took this picture (at a zoo) in Thailand.
Endangered whooping cranes flew 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) from Canada to Texas, where they usually spend the whole winter. Instead, they pecked around for a short time and flew back. Some ducks just kept flying south — all the way to Belize in Central America.
Throughout the winter, scientists have noticed bizarre bird migrations — a result, they believe, of flocks becoming desperate for food and habitat becoming scarce because of the worst one-year dry spell in Texas history. The unusually mild winter in the Northeast and Midwest has even persuaded some birds they could stay put, fly shorter distances or turn back north earlier than normal.
“We have birds scattered all over the place looking for habitat right now,” said Richard Kostecke, a bird expert and associate director of conservation, research and planning at the Nature Conservancy in Texas…