Sandhill Cranes Make A Noisy Comeback In The Cascades

Jun 5, 2012

Hunters once killed nearly all the greater sandhill cranes in Oregon and Washington. But the local crane population has made a comeback. In June, in the mountain lakes of the Cascades, you might hear a pair defending its nest. Amelia Templeton reports.

Most sandhill crane chicks hatch in May. If you get too close to a nest, mom and dad will throw back their heads and beat their wings. This pair is nesting near Howard Prairie Lake, in the Cascades. The adults are grey, with red caps. And they’re about the size and weight of a sixth grader.

Ivey: “They’re a little bit like geese except they have a “brrrr” to their call”

That’s Gary Ivey. He’s with the International Crane Foundation. Ivey says it’s a stressful time for crane parents. Only about 1 out of every 10 chicks will survive.

Ivey: “They’re on the ground, flightless for about 10 weeks. And so things like coyotes in particular, but owls and lots of other predators eat crane chicks.”

Ivey says thanks to habitat restoration and hunting bans, Greater Sandhill cranes are doing well. More than 1,000 now make Oregon and Washington their summer home. One of the best places to watch the nesting cranes, he says, is the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio