[CT Birds] [Maine-birds] Sandhill Cranes - Another chapter
lrbevier at colby.edu
Mon Dec 1 11:14:57 EST 2014
Thanks to Steve Mirick for compiling all the sightings of “The Flock.” Although I wasn’t around, I do know that the big flock of Sandhill Cranes lingering in Somerset Co., Maine, was present into the week of Thanksgiving. On Wednesday night the 26th, the entire area where these cranes roost and spend the day foraging was blanketed with over a foot of snow. It makes a lot of sense that Jason Lambert’s sighting in New Hampshire would be this group pulling up stakes and dragging the kids south for the winter. The flock included at least 6 immature birds (possibly a few more) in family groups, and the cranes tended to move in one group of 24 and another of 5 during movements to and from their roosting site.
We think the large flock in Somerset County is likely local breeders and their young, mainly because they have had this pattern of foraging in the pastures and cornfields here and then moving to the same roosting area over several years.
Sadly, the person who knew these New England Sandhills Cranes best and would have taken great delight in this story passed away over the summer. Scott Melvin found and described the first nest in New England (2000 at Messalonskee in Belgrade, Maine; Melvin, Northeastern Naturalist 9:193-202, 2002). Scott tracked the population increase in Maine and returned here every year to follow his favorite birds. We often wondered about where the Maine population wintered, and this story would have intrigued him. Scott was a Maine native who most recently worked for Massachusetts’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program on Piping Plovers. He will be missed. Here is a link to Scott’s obituary in the Boston Globe (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?pid=171716930 <http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?pid=171716930>), which mentions that donations in his memory may be made to the International Crane Foundation (https://www.savingcranes.org <https://www.savingcranes.org/>).
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