Sandhill Crane Festival

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For many years Sandhill Cranes have migrated to the delta wetlands where Lodi is now located. Every year thousands of birders visit Lodi’s wildlife refuges and farms to view this natural wonder, and the annual Sandhill Crane Festival is a wonderful time to do this. The festival schedule is made up of tours, workshops and the Sandhill Crane Festival Art show. Featured speakers for the event will be Dr. Richard Beilfuss (International Crane Foundation) and Hank Lentfer (author of “Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska”). This festival is a wonderful celebration of these elegant birds and a great opportunity to expand your birding horizons.

Date: 4 to 6 November 2011
Venue: Hutchins Street Square
City: Lodi
State: California
Country: United States of America

41st Annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration

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Presented by Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Bird Partnership and Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration sees bird and wildlife enthusiasts gathering to celebrate the migration of waterfowl and 500 000 sandhill cranes through central Nebraska. Visitors to the event can enjoy crane viewing, excursions to wetlands and lakes and The Wild Experience Room. Keynote speakers will be David yarnold, Dr. Richard Beilfuss and Rick Wright.

Date: 17 to 20 March 2011
Venue: Holiday Inn Convention Center
City: Kearney
State: Nebraska
Country: United States of America

U-Z

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Bird Species U-Z

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Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

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Named for its whooping call, the Whooping Crane (Grus americana) is unique in a number of ways. Firstly, at 1.5 meters in height with a wingspan of 2.3 meters, this beautiful bird is the tallest bird in North America. It is also unique in that it is the only crane species that is found exclusively in North America. However, despite their immense size, Whooping Cranes are an endangered species. When counted in 1995, there were 149 Whooping Cranes in the US. This is quite an increase from the 14-16 that were around in the 1940s but a far cry from the 1,500 or so that inhabited parts of western Canada and the US in the 1800s. Fortunately conservations efforts have been largely successful and there are currently more than 320 Whooping Cranes in the world.

Because of their immense size, Whooping Cranes are easily identifiable. They are very large birds with long legs and a long neck. Their dark bills are long and pointed and their long dark legs trail behind them when they fly. Whooping Cranes tend to hold their necks straight, both when resting and during flight, instead of adopting the S-like bend that many other long-necked birds make use of. Adults have a red crown and entirely white plumage. There is a bit of black near the base of their bills which extends onto the cheeks somewhat. You might also spot black wing tips when the adult bird is in flight. Juvenile birds have a white body with scattered brown feathers as well as a pale brown head and neck.

The Whooping Crane prefers to make use of ‘muskegs’ for breeding purposes. Currently there is only one known nesting location – that of Wood Buffalo National Park which is in Canada. The Whooping Crane nests on the ground in a marshy area. The female lays 1-3 eggs and both the male and female raise the young. Whooping cranes generally mate for life. Usually only one bird survives and the weaker is starved to death or pushed out the nest. Whooping Cranes are omnivorous and they eat snails, insects, leeches, minnows, frogs, small rodents, waste grain, plant roots and berries. They may scavenge on dead birds or muskrats, and in Texas they have been known to eat snakes, acorns, wild fruit, small fish and shellfish. Most of their food is obtained by foraging in shallow water or in fields. The main reason for this bird’s dwindling numbers is that of habitat loss. Fortunately several conservation projects have resulted in varying measures of success but the bird still has a long way to go before it is no longer considered to be an endangered species.

Operation Migration Continues Despite Challenges

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A while back a feel-good family movie called “Fly Away Home” highlighted the work done by a group of people who call themselves Operation Migration. The job of these dedicated people is to teach groups of hand-raised whooping cranes their migration patterns so that they can be successfully introduced into the wild.

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Bird Watching: Tanzania’s Spectacular Birdlife

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If you’re an avid bird watcher and you enjoy traveling to the far-flung corners of the earth in search of prime specimens, Tanzania should be your next birding destination. This beautiful corner of the African continent is home to a surprising number of strikingly different birds. What’s more, family members can join you in your travels and experience the safari of a lifetime.

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The Elegant Crane

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Almost every culture has at least one story about the majestic crane and they have long been depicted in art in different countries. These large birds have long legs and necks and so they stand out from other birds very easily. There are also representatives of this group of birds on every continent with the exception of two: Antarctica and South America. Cranes belong to the Gruiformes bird order and are grouped into the family ‘Gruidae’.

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Birds of Eden – A Little Piece of Avian Heaven

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The lush Garden Route area along the coast of South Africa can readily be described as a piece of paradise. The world’s largest free flight bird sanctuary, Birds of Eden, is situated in the heart of this piece of paradise. A single birdcage spans two hectares of indigenous forest, including a gorge, and is home to more than 2,000 birds of 180 species from various continents. These include parrots, parakeets, toucans, hornbills, thrushes, conures, cranes, flamingoes, ibises, swans and many more.

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Festival of the Cranes in New Mexico

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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge situated south of Socorro, New Mexico, has developed into one of the most magnificent national wildlife sanctuaries in North America. It is here that tens of thousands of birds gather each autumn to stay for the duration of winter. The 20th annual Festival of the Cranes to take place from 13 to 18 November 2007 is a celebration in honor of the arrival of the cranes.

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