Learning more about the nesting ecology of our local Lesser Sandhill Cranes is one of Kachemak Crane Watch’s major goals. Working with wildlife biologists Gary Ivey, Western Crane Conservation Manager for the International Crane Foundation and Michelle Michaud, Kachemak Crane Watch is conducting a three-year project to learn where local cranes nest, roost, and their reproductive success.
Sandhill cranes in the Lower 48 typically nest on mounds located within wetlands. “Cranes in the Kachemak Bay area, however, can be found in a multitude of habitat types,” said Gary Ivey. “I was surprised to find a nest in pushki.”
The majority of the on-the-ground work will be accomplished by Homer resident Michelle Michaud who will follow-up on crane sighting reports. Michaud will be contacting landowners who believe that a nesting crane is nearby to get a general idea of where they are nesting. Landowners are also encouraged to report sightings of cranes with chicks (colts) and provide a general idea of where the nest was located.
Michaud asks: “If you do come upon a pair of nesting cranes, do not approach the nest, but note the nest location and contact me or Kachemak Crane Watch.” Once the crane eggs have hatched and the cranes stop returning to their nest site, Michaud will return to record vegetation type and take nest measurements.
The study will include a “Crane Atlas” on the Kachemak Crane Watch website, where observers post their observations. The atlas will include a map to pinpoint the location and note other details. “To avoid disturbance, we will not make the specific location of nest sites available to the public,” said wildlife biologist Edgar Bailey, founder of Kachemak Crane Watch with co-founder Nina Faust. “The map will show, only in general terms, where the cranes nest.”
Another component of the study is to locate where cranes roost at night. “Cranes generally spend the night with their feet in several inches of water, as a means of protection from predators,” said Ivey. “If you have seen a large number of cranes at night, we would like to hear about it.” Ivey suggests observers contact Michaud so she can investigate roost sites.
The last component of the project is to determine the cranes’ reproductive success. Reproductive success is the number of chicks fledged per adult female. Kachemak Crane Watch would like to know when colts (crane chicks) fledge – that is when they first begin to fly. “This will usually occur between the end of July and the end of August, depending on when the eggs hatched,” said Michaud.
If you have information on where cranes nest or where they roost at night, please contact Michaud at 399-3159 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Continue to report general Sandhill Crane, crane colt (chick), and fledgling observations to Kachemak Crane Watch at Reports@cranewatch.org
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