North American Crane Working Group


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Prange, H. The status of the common crane (Grus Grus) in Europe- breeding, resting, migration, wintering, and protection. In Chavez-Ramirez, F, ed. 2005. Proceedings of the Ninth North American Crane Workshop, Jan 17-20, 2003. Sacramento, California: North American Crane Working Group. Pp. 69-78.


Reproduced by permission of the NACWG.


At present, about 160,000 and 100,000 cranes are migrating on the West-European and on the Baltic-Hungarian routes, respectively, from the northern, middle, and northeastern parts of Europe. On both routes, the resting maxima, simultaneously determined since the 1980’s, has increased three-fold. This increase in migratory cranes is the result of shorter migration routes with higher return rates, a growing passage from the northwestern part of Russia beginning in the 1990’s, and a protected status in the European Union at breeding as well as at many resting and wintering sites. Hence, the cranes learn to find and use new breeding and resting locations. Further changes in the migratory behaviour are a 2 to 4 weeks earlier return of the brood-birds in spring and a likewise delayed departure of the last crane groups in autumn. Wintering locations in Western Europe have been shifted to the north: in 1980/81 some 100 cranes wintered in France, whereas in 2000/2001 there were about 68,000 birds doing so. In several European countries there are working groups for the protection of cranes. Every year, the German group organizes an internal meeting to co-ordinate activities. Its mostly honorary members supervise the protection of the breeding and resting places over the whole country. About 50 autumn resting places with 200 up to 50,000 cranes at maximum, are systematically watched by the experts. The state co-ordinator enters the data obtained into an annual synopsis. A survey of crane resting in Germany over 25 years is available. The European Crane Working Group co-ordinates the protective strategies, data acquisition, and ringing of birds. It supports public relations, the exchange of information, scientific research, and European Crane Workshops. The positive development of the crane population in Europe is the result of the cooperation of all parties concerned. It convincingly shows that intense cultivation of the land can be consistent with successful execution of essential protective measures.