Date of this Version
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CRANE WORKSHOP 13:47-53
To better understand non-breeding ecology of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida), we harnessed 6 satellite GPS transmitters to adult cranes from 1 central Wisconsin breeding area. Using location data from these transmitters, we investigated non-breeding movements, including the routes and timing of migration. By combining satellite GPS data with a national land cover dataset, we also described habitat use on stopovers and wintering areas. Sandhill cranes tended to use larger home ranges on long stopovers (>3 days) than on short stopovers (3 days or less). The durations of northward migrations were longer and had more stopovers than southward migrations. We also documented a reverse migration pattern in 1 sandhill crane. There were differences in home range sizes of winter area and amount of time spent in the area (0.56-157 km2, 29-101 days). Sandhill cranes departed from the breeding grounds, departed from wintering areas, and returned to the breeding grounds at about the same time each year, regardless of the distance migrated. Cranes departed from the breeding grounds in mid-November and returned in mid to late March. Non-breeding sandhill cranes seemed to select wetlands and row crop agriculture more often than grasslands, forested, or developed areas, but at varying rates in different wintering areas. Understanding winter and migratory habitat use and migration behaviors of sandhill cranes from different breeding areas can help us cranes in Wisconsin, as well as important use areas in the flyway.