TRACKING SANDHILL CRANE MIGRATION FROM SASKATCHEWAN
TO THE GULF COAST
DALE G. HJERTAAS, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management, 3211 Albert Street, Regina, SK S4S 5W6, Canada
DAVID H. ELLIS, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, 12302 Beech Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708-4022, USA
BRIAN W. JOHNS, Canadian Wildlife Service, 115 Perimeter Road, Saskatoon, SK STN 0X4, Canada
STACIE L. MOON, 7004 Old Chapel Drive, Bowie, MD 20715, USA
Four adult sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis rowani) were captured in east-central Saskatchewan, equipped with transmitters, and tracked by satellite to determine if their migration routes and wintering areas would allow their use as guide birds to establish a new migratory flock of whooping cranes (G. americana). Two birds captured near Yorkton died or their transmitters were lost before migration. Two adults from the Overflowing River moved to staging areas in southern Saskatchewan in September. By 29 September, Crane A left Saskatchewan and moved to North Dakota where it remained until late October. By 21 December, it arrived a few km inland from the Gulf Coast near McFaddin, Texas, 3,378 km from its capture location. It remained there until at least 9 March 1995. On 15 March, it was relocated near Grand Island, Nebraska and by 20 April, it had returned to the Overflowing River area. Crane B spent most of September and October near the Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan, then migrated with brief stops in South Dakota and Kansas, arriving 29 November at its winter area near the northwestern comer of the Laguna Madre in Tamaulipas, Mexico, 3,998 km from its summering area. It remained there until at least 25 December, whereafter no further transmissions were received. Because both cranes wintered or migrated near the current whooping crane winter area at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (Aransas), Texas, this population was judged unsuitable to provide guide birds for a new flock of whooping cranes.
PROCEEDING 8 NORTH AMERICAN CRANE WORKSHOP 8:57-61
Key words: Grus americana, Grus canadensis, Kansas, Mexico, migration, Nebraska, North Dakota, sandhill crane, Saskatchewan, satellite tracking, Texas, whooping crane.
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