Tracking the Sandhill Cranes’ Journey to the Midwest
The Crane Trust is partnering with researchers from Texas Tech University to deploy GPS tracking devices on four Lesser Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis canadensis). The cranes were fitted with the tracking devices while at their winter grounds in northwest Texas near Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is the oldest in Texas, consisting of shortgrass prairie habitat and playa lakes that are so important to many migratory bird populations. Muleshoe has one of the largest concentrations of Lesser Sandhill Cranes in North America, with approximately 15% of the total population utilizing the habitat between fall and spring. We have already been able to see just how important a role wetlands play, on both public and privately-held lands. Maintaining such habitats is not only essential to the continued existence of cranes, but for biodiversity in general.
The tracking devices on the Lesser Sandhill Cranes will allow us to follow these four individuals on their entire spring migration, as they travel from their winter grounds in Texas, through the Central Flyway, all the way up north. We will have the opportunity to see exactly where the cranes settle in Canada, Alaska or maybe even Siberia — to dance, breed, and raise their young. As the cranes make their way to Nebraska and beyond, we will update you on their progress through our website, Facebook page and at the Nature & Visitor Center (9325 S Alda Rd, Wood River, Nebraska). There may even be a chance to spot one of these individuals from a Crane Trust blind as more sandhill cranes arrive along the Platte River — an essential staging area for thousands of years. In a way, this will allow us all to feel as though we are with them on their epic journey through North America.
Map: Sandhill Cranes near Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, TX.