Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sandhill Crane

Last week, John Holden and I saw three Sandhill Cranes in the vicinity of Sprague Lake in southwestern Rice County. Cranes are becoming increasingly common in the region—even compared to ten years ago, these majestic birds have become steadily more easy to find. These birds were common in Minnesota in the mid-1800s, but may have been reduced to about 50 individuals by the 1940s (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources).

Current populations of Sandhill Cranes in Minnesota have not been censused (MNDNR). An interesting phenomenon is occurring as the numbers and range increase. Historically cranes in northeastern Minnesota belonged to a mid-coninent race, while birds in the central part of the state were classified as being an eastern subspecies. The two populations are now beginning to overlap and their interactions are well worth further study.

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