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.
Today, March 9, 2016, Kachemak Crane Watch received the first report of Sandhill Cranes in the Homer area. This is the earliest report we have received. In the past we have had reports of a few flying high and probably heading north as early as the first week of April. Reports of local cranes usually start coming in mid-April.
An excited Mary Sanders called Kachemak Crane Watch to report three Sandhill Cranes flying over Beluga Slough and lake area this morning about 8 a.m. The cranes were flying relatively low, which may mean they are local Homer cranes. Please let us know if you see other cranes in the area. With changing weather patterns and reports of a bit earlier departure from Central California, the cranes may have made a fast migration.
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!
Although you would not know it by the exceptionally nasty weather, spring is here. The first crane reports are trickling in, although they are of cranes passing overhead going across Cook Inlet to other nesting areas. April 4, a report of four flying west past Beluga Slough and then on April 16, two reports–seven passing Beluga Slough and 35-40 spiraling high over the Anchor River mouth have been called in. So far, no cranes have been reported on the groundin the Kachemak Bay area.
Welcome to the Kachemak Crane Watch Sandhill Crane “blog”. The blog will be an up-to-date happenings of for our local Sandhill Crane Population, with information about crane observations (including nesting and chick rearing), and specifically about the pair of Sandhill Cranes that breed and raise their young at Inspiration Ridge Preserve during their stay in the Homer area.
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