Kachemak Crane Watch needs your participation during Kachemak Crane Watch’s annual Sandhill Crane Count Days. Please share this info with other crane lovers and count the cranes where you see them with the needed info as noted in the poster below. Please submit your info on the day of each count, or as soon as you can before the next Count Day.
Saturday – August 27 – Crane Count – Day One Friday – September 2 – Crane Count – Day Two Thursday – September 8 – Crane Count – Final Day
Citizen Scientists needed for Kachemak Crane Watch’s Sandhill Crane population survey in the Homer area (Anchor Point South). Kachemak Crane Watch would like to know of specific crane sightings with the following information; please report:
The number of adults, colts, or banded cranes;
Location of sighting;
Date of observation.
Send all observations to email@example.com or by call 907-235-6262.
For more information, contact Nina Faust at 235-6262.
The past few weeks, Kachemak Crane Watch has been receiving reports of Sandhill Cranes walking roads in town that are very busy with speeding cars and near power lines. Callers are asking why cranes are in this part of town in the middle of the street. Many callers are concerned for the cranes and noted people in the area are feeding corn to attract cranes to their homes.
When I have given Kachemak Crane Watch presentations about cranes and folks ask if it is ok to put out corn, I tell folks corn should not be put out to attract cranes if they live near power lines, near a busy street or congested areas where cranes walk down or alongside the road, or where cranes crossing the road might get hit by a car.
Many roads in town are dangerous for cranes. Cars driving too fast on roads, with poor visibility due to blind corners and hills, may suddenly encounter cranes in the road or along side the road. Cranes in the road can be struck, killing or injuring the crane and potentially damaging the car and injuring occupants. Panicked cranes can fly into roads and be hit by passing cars.
Power lines are a major mortality factor for cranes and many are killed or badly injured crashing into them when they fly off in a panic. I have seen cranes with their jaws just hanging, a severe injury most likely caused by catching their beak on a power line. These cranes most likely die a horrible death.
Cranes are wonderful to have around, but attracting them into a busy neighborhood not only endangers the cranes, but also may cause problems for people who have gone to a lot of trouble putting in elaborate gardens. Cranes may destroy garden plants and flowers in search for worms.
Use common sense and err on the side of keeping cranes safe. If you live near hazards to cranes, don’t put corn out for them. The cranes will find sufficient food to survive without the addition of corn to their diet.
Photos below by Nina Faust, Kachemak Crane Watch
All photos taken on Inspiration Ridge Preserve
A Kachemak Crane Watch cooperator daily watching a pair of nesting Sandhill Cranes has reported very unusual behavior by the male. The male Sandhill Crane in this Homer Alaska pair does not feed one of the two chicks as is the norm with most pairs. In fact, he has been downright mean to them. He pecks them and chases them. Two resident eagles sit atop a tree above their foraging area nearly all day every day. Is he an aberrant male, or does he have a different strategy to keep the family safe? Check out this behavior in the new video, “Sandhill Crane–Bad Dad?”
The genus Antigone has been split from Grus. Scientific names for Whooping and Common cranes remain unchanged, but Sandhill Crane has changed from Grus canadensis to Antigone canadensis. The other members of Antigone are White-naped Crane*, Brolga*, and Sarus Crane*. Antigone is the name of Oedipus’s daughter/half-sister in Greek mythology.
Sandhill Crane colts have been hatching the past week and a half. At the Beluga Slough boardwalk below the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, visitors can enjoy two Sandhill Crane pairs that both have two colts.
Around Kachemak Bay several reports of eagle problems has been recorded by Kachemak Crane Watch. One adult crane was killed and its egg destroyed by an eagle. Another report described a “pack” of five eagles hunting a Sandhill Crane pair. One of the adults flew off with the five eagles close behind. Fortunately for this pair, the crane managed to escape. Several Kachemak Crane Watch cooperators have reported higher than normal numbers of eagles this summer harassing cranes. Could be that eagle numbers are up after the murre die off and are now hungry.
Kachemak Crane Watch’s new video, “Sandhill Cranes: Female Brooding Young Colts” is a closeup look at an afternoon nap with the colts. Sandhill Cranes have to brood their very young colts frequently during the day. When they are just a few days old, running around with their parents tires out these tiny fuzzballs, and they need naps throughout the day, especially if it is windy or the weather is bad. The little colts cannot yet thermo-regulate their body temperatures. Enjoy and please share with others:
Sandhill Cranes make a variety of calls, from purrs to hisses to bugles, with variations that require the context of what the cranes are doing to understand. For example, purrs are used in calling young, prior to flight or mating, or when the crane is nervous. Unison calls or guard calls are sometimes used to let other cranes know this is the pair’s territory or prior to or during flight flight, as well as in other circumstances. Vocalizations are complex and not fully understood. Enjoy these purrs and unison calls.
It is late April and in Homer, Alaska, Sandhill Cranes are mating and preparing their nest for the season. By the first week of May they should have laid one or two eggs. Three Sandhill Cranes are nesting again this year in Beluga Slough, easily accessible on foot via the boardwalk below the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge’s Island and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, AK.
Sandhill Cranes spent a great deal of time each day preening their feathers to get rid of parasites and to align their feathers for better flight and insulation. Enjoy this video with intimate views of cranes.
Two cranes landed in Beluga Slough April 21 at 11 a.m. We can now say spring has officially begun!
Kachemak Crane Watch is embarking on a new partnership with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies this summer. Late last fall, CACS’s Board of Directors voted to take KCW under the organization’s non-profit umbrella and begin a collaboration of citizen science, programs, tours, and more, all related to Sandhill Crane education and conservation. Very soon, KCW will launch a new website with a blog where these updates will be available to the public. You will also be able to subscribe to blog updates. Look for more information about all of this as the summer season begins.
The 2015 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is May 8-10. KCW will be presenting its new video, “A Fledge for Freedom: A Young Lesser Sandhill Crane’s Quest for Flight.” A slide program by Nina Faust and the video will be shown on May 9 from 4-5 p.m. at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center’s theater. On Sunday, a slide talk by Nina Faust and the video, “Raising Kid Colt” is scheduled at 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.in the same location.
Our crane counts and nesting records depend on citizen participation. Please call Kachemak Crane Watch with your sightings of all Sandhill Cranes, but most especially of nesting pairs. We are very interested in continuing to gather information about where cranes are nesting, when they begin to sit on the nest, when young hatch, and if the pair successfully fledges their colts. If you have reported to us in the past, give us a call and let us know if last summer’s colts returned this spring with the parents.
Looking forward to hearing from everyone. Enjoy the cranes and summer!