News & Features

Please Help with the Sandhill Crane Survey in November

Sandhill Cranes in Flight by Jake Dingel. Note the extended necks.

The USFWS Division of Migratory Birds has once again asked PA to participate in the Fall Sandhill Crane Survey.  This year the survey will be conducted on November 9. If November 9 is not possible, then the survey should fall within the period Nov. 9-13. Last year, 151 Sandhill Cranes were observed during the November survey. This is 25 more cranes observed than in 2014 and 53 more than in 2013.  Cranes were observed in six counties: Bradford, Crawford, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Mercer and Sullivan.

We are once again inviting experienced birders to join this statewide monitoring effort. Counts are best conducted within 30 minutes after sunrise or 30 minutes before sunset. If dawn/dusk surveys are not possible, cranes can be tallied during the day as they forage in small groups. If you know of a well-established site where cranes routinely roost at night, USFWS asks for an early survey during the period Oct 28 – Nov 4, followed by an additional survey during Nov 9-13. This is to assess changes in migration timing from historic dates.  Of course, eBird records also are welcome in addition to the official survey.

Background info, protocol and data sheet are available on the PGC website at (www.pgc.state.pa.us) under “Wildlife” on the Birding and Bird Conservation page in the Bird Conservation section: http://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/GetInvolved/SandhillCraneSurvey/Pages/default.aspx

Sandhill Crane by Jake Dingel, PGC

Sandhill Crane by Jake Dingel, PGC

Survey sheets can be printed from the web page and mailed to the address provided. Online reporting is also available via the website. Thanks for your help in making others aware of this effort, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Two Sandhill Cranes in winter plumage by Jake Dingel

Two Sandhill Cranes in winter plumage by Jake Dingel

In addition to the official USFWS Sandhill Crane survey, Pennsylvania birders are invited to look for Sandhill Cranes throughout the year and enter these sightings into Pennsylvania eBird. All of these data entry will help us better understand the crane yearly cycle in the East.  Some of the crane sites are in Pennsylvania Important Bird Areas or important wetlands.  Many pairs are already on breeding ground by mid-March, even with snow and ice on the ground.  Their trumpeting courtship calls declare their presence and invite people to give them a look.  But, first we have the annual fall migration survey to complete and enjoy.

Upward trend in Sandhill Crane Eastern Population.

Upward trend in Sandhill Crane Eastern Population.

We previously have posted news stories about the Sandhill Crane survey including last year. Please check these out for more details and images:

Game Commission Again Requests Help with Sandhill Crane Survey

Lisa Williams

Bureau of Wildlife Management

PA Game Commission

Adult Sandhill Crane by Bill Williams, PGC

Adult Sandhill Crane by Bill Williams, PGC