They’ve hung out from Siberia to Cuba and they’ve spent years in residency in Canada. They even have a well-established migratory population around the eastern side of the Great Lakes. So why are Sandhill Cranes chillin’ out in Pennsylvania? It’s the question that’s on the lips of many wildlife conservationists.
According to Joe Kosack, Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), until recently, the Sandhill Crane has been considered an “accidental visitor” to our state. Now, conservationists have found that some of these feathered friends have taken to nesting and wintering here in Pennsylvania.
“Sandhill cranes, until relatively recently, weren’t part of the state’s breeding bird community,” explained Dan Brauning, Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Division chief. “In fact, it’s sort of amazing they’re anywhere in North America today given the bird’s troubled past.”
Sandhill Cranes have been mistaken for our Blue Heron, given the Sandhill Crane’s previous identity problems and existence issues, and its historic nonresident status, it’s no wonder most Pennsylvanians really don’t know a lot about them.
But the birds do have a mysterious side to them according to the International Crane Foundation. Headquartered in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the organization works toward a future where all crane species are secure and where people cooperate to protect and restore wild crane populations and their ecosystems.
“We’ve been following sandhill cranes for 20 years and we’re still learning things,” noted Matt Hayes, a Foundation sandhill crane researcher. In June, Hayes, accompanied by Andy Gossens, from the International Crane Foundation, and Hoa Nguyen, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, came to Pennsylvania as part of a multi-state research project to collect information on and genetic samples from the newest additions to Pennsylvania’s limited, but established, sandhill nesting population.
The PGC and the Foundation are interested in learning more about what Sandhill Cranes are doing in Pennsylvania and are enlisting the help of Pennsylvania residents. If you observe what appear to be nesting Sandhill Cranes, or adult cranes in summer with juveniles, please send an email titled Sandhill Crane Observation to [email protected] Include details on the potential nesting or sighting location and contact information.
Source: Joe Kosack, Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist at the PGC
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