Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Record numbers of sandhill cranes were observed on Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
Southwest Region, December 20, 2006
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sandhill crane mating dance
sandhill crane mating dance - Photo Credit: n/a
sandhill crane in evening sun
sandhill crane in evening sun - Photo Credit: n/a

A record number of sandhill cranes were observed on Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (Arizona) during weekly waterfowl counts.  On December 20, biological interns Welytok and Walters reported 1,782 sandhill cranes using the refuge.  This was a record number of cranes spotted on the refuge since the previous record which was recorded on the 31st of January in 2005 with 1,513 birds. 

Cibola NWR provides key habitat for wintering waterfowl along the Colorado River.  Farming practices are implemented on the refuge to provide feeding and resting areas for the health and survival of sandhill cranes and other wintering waterfowl prior to the northbound migration in spring. 

Waterfowl counts monitor not only the populations of birds using the refuge but the success of our management practices on the refuge.  Current new management practices on the refuge include maintaining additional moist soil units on Farm Unit I, intense water management on moist soil units at Island Unit III, and working with coop farmer on crop type and placement.        

By comparing this years waterfowl counts to previous years, Cibola National Wildlife Refuge appears to be on the right track by providing the cranes with a healthy wintering experience to ensure the return of the maximum number of birds. Sound wildlife habitat management is the key to increasing the number of sandhill cranes that return to the refuge each year.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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