Our aerial count this week was 66,000 Sandhill Cranes (Absolute Error +/- 7.1%). SACRs were present in survey bridge segments 1, 3, and 4 in large roosts with the vast majority off of Mormon Island at the Crane Trust. We also detected a small group in bridge segment 7 near Gibbon. Last year at this time we counted 82,100 SACRs, however, that was the highest number counted during the second week of surveys (third week in February) in our database (2002-2017). It appears that warm springs, such as this one, have occasionally brought large numbers of SACRs early. We are investigating this for publication, which we will finalize this coming fall. Generally we could expect to count between 5,000 and 30,000 birds near the end of February, but a few warm springs buck that trend. Our next count will be February 27th.
Late February Total Sandhill Crane Counts from Aerial Surveys**
Year 2017* 2016* 2016* 2015 2014 2013 2009* 2006 2005
Date 21-Feb 22-Feb 29-Feb 23-Feb 26-Feb 28-Feb 24-Feb 28-Feb 28-Feb
Count 66,000 82,100 213,600 10,200 4,350 26,050 62,900 5,600 29,400
*Select years to demonstrate normal variation, aberrant years starred.
**Data property of the Crane Trust: Permission required before use or distribution.
In addition to Sandhill Cranes we count Bald Eagles utilizing the river during their migration in February as well as Dark Geese. Today we counted 10 Bald Eagles (down from 45 last week) and 2,000 Dark Geese (Down from 4,200 last week).