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Sandhill Crane Counts 2021 - Week 8

We counted an estimated 35,800+/-5,300 Sandhill Cranes in the Central Platte River Valley between Chapman and Overton, Nebraska, on 6 April 2021. This marks a steep decline (>6-fold decrease) over last week’s abundance index. The Sandhill Cranes have indeed departed as rapidly as they came in early March. This year’s migration is indicative of trends in Sandhill Crane chronology over the last several decades, which indicate that relative abundance often peaked during survey week 8 (02–08 April) in the past, but has demonstrated a steady decline over the last 20 years (-3.9% annually; Caven et al. 2019. MWNAN). The remaining Sandhill Cranes were clustered between Kearney and Shelton, with the largest concentrations at Rowe Sanctuary and the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program’s Speidell Tract. We will count again next Monday (04-12-2021) pending appropriate weather and will keep everyone updated on what is likely to be the last aerial survey of 2021. I want to take a couple sentences to thank Jenna Malzahn for several years of dedication to the Crane Trust’s mission. She has been flying the Sandhill Crane aerial surveys with me for 3 years and as she departs to new horizons this fall we hope her time on the Platte River has served her career and spirit well. Thanks again for all the early mornings, bumpy rides, and smooth rides alike Jenna, we could not have done our work without you!