North American Crane Working Group


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Ellis, David H., Yuri M. Markin, Charles H. Vermillion, Charles M. Hoisington, Alexander G. Sorokin, and Grey W. Pendleton. "Satellite Telemetry Reveals Winter Home of Eurasian Crane From Northwestern Siberia.", In: Stahlecker D. W., ed. 1992. Proceedings of the Sixth North American Crane Workshop, Oct. 3-5, 1991, Regina, Sask. (Grand Island, NE.: North American Crane Working Group, 1992), 172.


Conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources Department, and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Canadian Council. Proceedings used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


Satellite telemetry is a developing technology for the study of crane migration. A greater sandhill crane (Grus canadensis tabida) was tracked by satellite from Florida to Michigan in March 1989 (Nagendran 1992). This note reports the second attempt to use satellite telemetry to follow crane migration. In 1989 -90, tests of various harness and backpack designs for satellite telemetry transmitters (PTT's) with free-flying and confined sandhill cranes led to a 4-strap design (see Olsen et al. 1992) that was accepted for field testing. Through a cooperative effort between the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (USFWS) , International Crane Foundation, Soviet Nature Conservation and Reserves (USSR), aka State Reserve (Russia), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA), 3 battery-powered PTT's (weight 161-163 g plus 15 g for harness) manufactured by Telonics (mention does not constitute U.S. Government endorsement) were placed on 1 adult female and 2 adult male Eurasian cranes (G. grus) in the Kunovat Basin in northwestern Siberia in June 1990. The 2 males were captured by using alpha-chloralose-laced sandpiper (Tringa sp.) eggs; the female, then in full wing molt, was captured on foot after helicopter pursuit (see Ellis and Markin 1991 for capture details). Data from System Argos revealed that all 3 birds remained on their territories through the summer. In mid- to late-August. all 3 moved west or southwest to the marshes immediately adjacent to the Ob River. They remained there about 1 month, then proc~eded south parallel to the Ob. One of the 2 males was still mobile when his transmitter went off the air in the Tyumen region 1,038 km from his summer home. The second male traveled 778 lan, but after 20 September his PTT remained stationary (backpack removed or crane dead) until 25 December when the last signal was received. During the last half of October, the female continued south-southwest through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Between 11 and 14 November, she arrived at her wintering area along the Hari River on the Afghan-Iranian border, 3,370 km from her summer home. She and her PTT remained active until the last reception on 23 February 1991. Because the PIT's were programmed to transmit intermittently (to extend battery life), rates of travel are normally known only over periods of days or weeks. However, 1 male, monitored in flight over a 5-hour period, traveled 164 kID (33 kmlhr). The other male traveled 748 kID over a 4-d.ay period. Over a very long stage (1,900 km in 16 days) across Central Asia, the female averaged 116 km/day.