The Greater Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis tabida) wintering
population along the lower Colorado and Gila Rivers of
Arizona is the smallest of the five management populations recognized in the United States. This unique population of Sandhill Cranes nests primarily in intermountain wetlands of northeastern Nevada and southwestern Idaho. During the winter months they migrate south to Arizona and California. Due to their wintering range this population has been appropriately
designated the Lower Colorado River Valley population. In 2007 this population was estimated at approximately 2772 individuals and recent surveys suggest an increasing population. However, the overall stability of the population remains uncertain. Only approximately 30% of the wintering population has been located within the known summer range. This discrepancy outlines our need to further understand the Lower Colorado River Valley population for future management and conservation efforts.
The primary purpose of this investigation is to determine the number of individuals and movement patterns of Greater Sandhill Cranes within the Lower Colorado River Valley population. In cooperation with Cibola National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding landowners we are identifying sites used by the species, and are capturing as many birds as possible. Each individual will be marked with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) band and unique aluminum-anodized, alpha-numeric, colored leg band. A request will be placed with the National Birding Hotline Cooperation West, respective western state wildlife agencies, USFWS refuges along the Rocky Mountain and Western flyways, and other pertinent organizations to report all color banded cranes encountered to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. In addition, satellite transmitters will be placed on five adult birds so their movements and locations can be mapped and documented.
This project will identify local crane feeding and roost sites within Arizona and California and document the migration patterns and breeding areas for future conservation and management. It will also determine the movement patterns of Sandhill Cranes wintering along the Lower Colorado River of Arizona, and identify the breeding locations of Sandhill Cranes in their summer range.
For more information contact:
Vince Frary, Wildlife Specialist III,
Arizona Game and Fish department,
5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000.