Date of this Version
Davis, Craig A. Nocturnal roost site selection and diurnal habitat use by sandhill cranes during spring in central Nebraska. In: Ellis, David H., ed., Proceedings of the Eighth North American Crane Workshop, 11–14 January 2000, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Seattle, Wash: North American Crane Working Group, 2001), pp. 48-56.
During spring 1998 and 1999, the Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust conducted ground and aerial surveys of staging sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis; hereafter, cranes) to detennine roost site selection and habitat-use patterns along a l20-Ian stretch of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. Cranes peaked at 232,023 during 22-28 March 1998 and 206,074 during 28 Februaty-6 March 1999 in the study area, a portion of the total crane staging area in the Platte River Valley. Diurnal observations showed that 48% of the cranes were in com fields, 34% in lowland grasslands, 13% in alfalfa fields, and 5% in other habitats (soybean, winter wheat, and upland grassland). In com fields, 38%, 36%, 13%, and 11% of the cranes were in ungrazed, grazed, tilled, and mowed stubble, respectively, while in lowland grasslands, 64%, 23%, and 11% were in grazed, hayed, and idled fields. Most cranes (84%) roosted in river sections where channel widths were >200 m. Cranes preferred river sections where channel widths were >250 min 1998 and >200 min 1999, and avoided sections :;;150 m wide. Channel widths used by roosting cranes averaged 277 m± 7.7 (SE) in 1998 and 237 m± 5.5 in 1999 and were wider (P < 0.001) than unused sections (1998: 84 m± 4.1; 1999: 88 m ± 4.4). In 1998 and 1999, 59% and 66% of roost sites, respectively, were in river sections where vegetation had been mechanically cleared. Clearing of channel vegetation appeared to enhance roost sites for cranes.