Date of this Version
Jorgensen (2002) recently summarized breeding-season occurrences of the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) in the Eastern Rainwater Basin (eRWB). Summering birds were first detected in 1992 (The Nebraska Bird Review 60: 145). Breeding first occurred in 1994 with four additional nesting or breeding records in subsequent years. The most recent breeding records were in 1999 when breeding activity was detected at both Kissinger Basin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (Hoffman 1999) and Harvard Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) (Silcock and Jorgensen 1999), both in Clay County. Since late 1999 the eRWB has experienced persistent drought. This has affected wetland conditions because water levels are dictated by precipitation. Breeding-season observations have been less frequent during these drier years suggesting birds may have abandoned individual wetlands and the region. Variable wetland conditions caused by fluctuations in precipitation is what led Jorgensen (2002) to question whether breeding in the eRWB would be sporadic and possibly even limited to the short period in the 1990s. An additional 2003 breeding record answers, at least partially, some of the questions regarding the Sandhill Crane's status in the eRWB. I summarize this recent record below.