Ohio DNR Sandhill Crane Migration Study

Within Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, migratory sandhill cranes are considered a game species. Kentucky is now in its second of an experimental 3-year season but Tennessee delayed any decision regarding a crane hunt until 2013 when additional data on population sustainability will be reviewed.

There is concern by many that the endangered Ohio population of sandhill cranes will be shot during the hunting seasons in Tennessee and Kentucky. It is virtually impossible to distinguish Ohio population cranes from Ohio from those from Wisconsin and Michigan during migration.

The following migration map prepared by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources tracks the Ohio cranes to the Cecilia and Barren River areas in Kentucky and Hiwassee WMA in TN.

January 7, 2013 – Crane 95413 started south on December 28 and is currently about 40 miles south of Louisville. It has been in the Cecilia area since January 2, 2013.

January 7, 2013 – Crane 95413 started south on December 28 and is currently about 40 miles south of Louisville. It has been in the Cecilia area since January 2, 2013.

Additional information (or to read more click here) from the ODNR Sandhill study:

Greater sandhill cranes (Grus  canadensis tabida) are listed as a state endangered species in Ohio. Observations of breeding pairs and confirmed sightings of nests or young (colts) indicate breeding by sandhill cranes in Ohio since 1985. Growth of the breeding population has been slow, primarily centered in the Killbuck/Funk Bottoms region, Geauga, Ashtabula, Lorain, Trumbull, and Williams counties, and at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area.

The 2006-2009 nesting seasons produced the highest number of sandhill crane nests and colts since the mid-1800s. At least 23 crane pairs were observed in 2008 with 19 young cranes fledged. The number of nesting pairs declined to 19 in 2009 but 23 young were fledged. Although small numbers of sandhill cranes have consistently nested within the state in recent years, there is little knowledge of what population or habitat factors currently limit growth of the Ohio breeding population. In addition, Ohio biologists want to learn where cranes produced in Ohio go during migration, what route they take, when migration occurs, and how long it lasts.

Three cranes were instrumented with limited-range VHF transmitters in fall 2003. One of the 3 cranes was located at Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge near Chattanooga, Tennessee for about a week. Contact with the bird was lost and biologists don’t know if it stayed in Tennessee or moved further south to Mississippi or Florida. Every year over 10,000 sandhill cranes over-winter at Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge.

Sandhill crane pairs in Ohio establish a territory in late winter, start nesting in early April and eggs start hatching in early May. The single or twin chicks will leave the nest within days. The chicks fledge at 67 to 75 days after hatch. Juveniles will stay with their parents until they are about 10 months old – about the time of the next year’s breeding season.

To read more:

ODNR Division of Wildlife – Nest success for Sandhill Cranes in Ohio, 1997-2012

Population status and habitat utilization of greater sandhill cranes in Ohio/ 2004 Master Thesis by Joni A. Downs

1 Response to Ohio

  1. Just saw a huge flock of about 50 to 100 Sandhill cranes just south of Vanlue Ohio flying south east, December 15th. 2016 @ around 3:00 p.m.

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