North American Crane Working Group


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Ellis, David H., Gee, George F., Clegg, Kent R., Duff, Joseph W., Lishman, William A., and Sladen, William J. L. Lessons from the motorized migrations. 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. 139-144.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group (NACWG).


Ten experiments have been conducted to determine if cranes can be led on migration and if those so trained will repeat migrations on their own. Results have been mixed as we have experienced the mishaps common to pilot studies. Nevertheless, we have learned many valuable lessons. Chief among these are that cranes can be led long distances behind motorized craft (air and ground), and those led over most or the entire route will return north come spring and south in fall to and from the general area of training. However, they will follow their own route. Groups transported south and flown at intervals along the route will migrate but often miss target termini. If certain protocol restrictions are followed, it is possible to make the trained cranes wild, however, the most practical way of so doing is to introduce them into a flock of wild cranes. We project that it is possible to create or restore wild migratory flocks of cranes by first leading small groups from chosen northern to southern termini.