Our Beautiful World

North American Cranes

Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis  
Whooping Crane, Grus americana

An adult Sandhill Crane with a chick
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grus_canadensis_-adult_and_chick-8.jpg

Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis

The Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis is a large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia.
The common name of this bird references habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills in the
American Midwest. This is the most important stopover area for the Lesser Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis canadensis),
with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.

© www.ecosystema.ru

Adults are gray overall; during breeding, the plumage is usually much worn and stained, particularly in the migratory
populations, and looks nearly ochre. The average weight of the larger male is 4.57 kg (10.1 lb), while the average weight
of females is 4 kg, with a range of 2.7 to 6.7 kg across the subspecies. The Sandhill Crane has a red forehead, white cheeks
and a long dark pointed bill. Its long dark legs trail behind in flight, and the long neck is kept straight in flight.
Immature birds have reddish brown upperparts and gray underparts.

Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
© www.ecosystema.ru/

The sandhill crane's large wingspan, typically 1.65 to 2.1 m, makes this a very skilled soaring bird similar in style to hawks
and eagles. Utilizing thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their
wings and consequently expending little energy. With migratory flocks containing hundreds of birds, they can create clear
outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air (thermals) that they ride.

Whooping Crane, Grus americana

The Whooping Crane (Grus americana), the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its
whooping sound. Along with the Sandhill Crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America.
The Whooping Crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. After being pushed to the brink of extinction
by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat to just 21 wild and two captive Whooping Cranes by 1941, conservation efforts
have led to a limited recovery. As of 2011, there are an estimated 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.

An adult Whooping Crane is white with a red crown and a long, dark, pointed bill. Immature Whooping Cranes are cinnamon
brown. While in flight, their long necks are kept straight and their long dark legs trail behind. Adult Whooping Cranes' black
wing tips are visible during flight.

The species can stand up to 1.5 meters and have a wingspan of 2.3 meters. Males weigh on average 7.3 kg, while females
weigh 6.2 kg on average. The body length averages about 132 cm).

These birds forage while walking in shallow water or in fields, sometimes probing with their bills. They are omnivorous and
slightly more inclined to animal material than most other cranes. In their Texas wintering grounds, this species feeds on various
crustaceans, mollusks, fish (such as eel), berries, small reptiles and aquatic plants. Potential foods of breeding birds in summer
include frogs, small rodents, smaller birds, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, clams, snails, aquatic tubers and, berries. Waste grain,
including wheat, barley, and corn, is an important food for migrating Whooping Cranes.

Both Whooping Cranes and blue crabs depend on the health of the Guadalupe River, which
feeds freshwater into the coastal marshes along the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo by Mike Sloat

Guadeloupe River Basin

Guadalupe River Basin

The Guadalupe River supplies freshwater to the coastal marshes of the Gulf of Mexico and the wintering area of the last
naturally occurring Whooping Crane population. The Whooping Cranes migrate over 4.000 km from their breeding
grounds in western Canada to winter on the coastal wetlands near and within the boundaries of Aransas National Wildlife
Refuge in southeastern Texas. The freshwater from the Guadalupe River is essential for the cranes and their main winter
food source, blue crabs, but the river and coastal wetlands are threatened by excessive upstream water use.

The survival of Whooping Cranes in Texas depends on securing freshwater from the Guadalupe River basin and
conserving wetland habitats along the Gulf Coast (click on the map to view our project areas). These same waters also
sustain a wealth of economic activity along the Texas coast, including commercial and sport fisheries, shellfisheries and
Source: http://www.savingcranes.org/guadalupe-river.html

Six Whooping Crane wintered on Granger Lake in Central TX in 2011/2012. The group was made up of two mated pairs
and their single offspring. One adult bird flew ahead to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge early in the season, but returned
again to rejoin it's mate and offspring. Drought conditions in 2011 exposed much of the lake bed, creating ample feeding
grounds for this small group of cranes.

The Whooping Crane is endangered mainly as a result of habitat loss, although whoopers are also still illegally shot despite
this being subject to substantial financial penalties and possible prison time. The Whooping Crane is still one of the rarest
birds in North America

Among the many potential nest and brood predators include American Black Bear, Ursus americanus,
Wolverine, Gulo gulo, Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes, Lynx, Lynx canadensis,
Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, and Common Raven, Corvus corax.

Golden eagles, Aquila chrysaetos, have killed young Whooping Cranes and fledgings.The bobcat, Lynx ryfus, has
killed many Whooping Cranes in Florida and Texas; whether the birds were taken on their nests or not is not specified.
In Florida, bobcats have caused the great majority of mortalities among Whooping Cranes, including several adults and the first chick documented to be born in the wild in 60 years. It is believed that this is due to an overpopulation of
bobcats caused by the absence or decrease in larger predators (the endangered Florida panther and the extirpated red
wolf) that formerly preyed on bobcats. At least 12 bobcats have been trapped and relocated in an attempt to save the cranes. American alligators have taken a few Whooping Cranes in Florida.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whooping_Crane

ARKive video - Whooping cranes in flight and coming into land

Whooping cranes in flight and coming into land

Video: BBC Natural History Unit
Audio: BBC Natural History Sound Library and Master Tracks

Lake Hornborga 2005
Main Menu - Hovedmeny
Cranes in the Air - Traner i luften
Cranes on the Ground  Traner på bakken
Swans at Lake Hornborga  Svaner ved Hb-sjön
Other Birds etc  Andre fugler osv.
Previous years: Tidliere år:
Cranes   Traner
They're still there! 2012  De er fremdeles der!
Cranes - Gruidae - Traner - Gruidae


over 250


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over 225
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