By Kachemak Crane Watch
Only a month and a half after cranes left Homer, Nina Faust, co-founder with Edgar Bailey of Kachemak Crane Watch, set out for Sacramento in mid-November, roughly following the Homer Sandhill Crane migration route to their wintering area in the Sacramento Valley.
She was in Sacramento along with Gary Ivey, the Western Project Manager for the International Crane Foundation, as one of two Featured Presenters at the 16th annual Lodi Crane Festival. Save Our Sandhill Cranes, a sister group based in Sacramento, suggested Nina as a speaker to strengthen ties between the two ends of the Sandhill Cranes’ Pacific Flyway to further conservation and education efforts of the two groups.
Two days after arriving in the Sacramento area, Faust received a report of Sandhill Crane C003, her two colts and mate. They were all dancing in the fields at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge at Elk Grove just south of Sacramento.
“This is great news!” Faust said. “C003 is famous in Homer as the female crane rescued by her human neighbors when she was struggling to get away from a bald eagle that was on top of her.”
Since that lucky rescue four years ago, C003 has successfully raised a family every year, including the summer she was attacked.
Faust’s visit to Sacramento provided many examples of the need to save cranes’ wintering habitat.
“Agricultural areas where grain is grown is a favorite feeding area, but increasingly these important areas are being converted to subdivisions, orchards, and vineyards. The latter two are death traps for cranes as it is difficult for them to fly out if they land there. Ivey has identified the most important feeding and roosting areas and is working with local conservation groups and agencies to mitigate loss or protect valuable habitat,” explained Faust.
Approximately 1,500 people attended the Lodi Crane Festival, a celebration that hosts an art show, exhibits and continuous presentations about cranes and other birds. There are also a variety of field trips offered to watch Sandhill Cranes as they fly in or out of their roosts in the evening or at dawn.
Faust was attending the festival to present her new video, “Raising Kid Colt: A Story of a Young Sandhill Crane.” Her video visually transported the more than 200 viewers to the cranes’ summering area in Homer. It let them see the intimate world of Sandhill Crane family life, including seldom-seen perspectives of raising crane colts and a progression of colt development over the summer. The video also showed feather painting, pair bonding, dancing and mating.
“Raising Kid Colt” has been well-received at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, Creamer’s Field Crane Festival, Colorado Crane Festival and the Lodi Festival.
The cranes’ story is intertwined with the lives of Nina, a retired high school teacher and longtime conservationist, and Ed Bailey, a retired wildlife biologist.
“The video illustrates the amazing adaptability of these ancient birds to survive and raise a family in a rural suburban area where cranes frequently establish nesting territories very near human habitation,” said Faust.
The video is available on DVD and would make a great Christmas stocking stuffer or just help chase away the winter blues. It can be purchased at the Homer Bookstore or Coal Point Trading, online at the International Crane Foundation’s gift store at www.savingcranes.org, or by contacting Nina through the usual Kachemak Crane Watch contacts — 235-6262 or email@example.com. Or, if you happen to see Nina around town, stop for a chat. Chances are she will have some videos with her.
All video proceeds ($20) will benefit the International Crane Foundation’s Western Crane Conservation Program. So far, the donation of this video to ICF has provided more than $8,300 toward the program to protect Homer’s Sandhill Crane wintering habitat.
For more information, visit the Kachemak Crane Watch website at www.cranewatch.org to learn more about Nina and Ed’s educational work and efforts to protect Homer’s Sandhill Cranes.
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