4/19/2013 4:36:00 PM Cranes make way through Washington
A last minute cancellation by Friday night's speaker meant Sandhill Crane Festival attendees got a talk from Gary Ivey on the origins and travels of the Pacific Flyway Cranes. Ivey works with the International Crane Foundation and is also the president of the Trumpeter Swan Association. There are currently 15 species of cranes in the world, 11 of which are threatened. Two of the species are found in Washington, including the whooping crane and the sandhill crane. There are only about 300 whooping cranes around, but the sandhill crane is the most abundant type of crane in the world, with about 600,000 living in North America. Ivey has worked extensively tagging and tracking the cranes that migrate through the western part of North America, from Alaska down to California. During his speech, he talked about the challenges and benefits of tracking the creatures and getting to know their lives and habitats. He has watched them for years and seen a lot of different things, he said. For example, the sandhill cranes stop off in Homer, Alaska. The birds not only come into the area, he said, they rest in the backyards of the residents, eating seed left out for them and coming within feet of their back porches. In his speech, he compared different types of cranes. The greater sandhill cranes are the ones that generally come in through Othello. They are bigger in size and a different color than there counterparts, the lesser sandhill cranes. There is also a Canadian breed of the sandhill cranes, he said, which are far less used to people and more wild than the other types of cranes. He talked about the cranes themselves. Adult males are called roans, females are called mares and the young are called colts. They mate for life and normally lay two eggs. They rarely fledge two chicks, though, because there is low brood survival. There is a lot of predatory action and, when threatened, the cranes will choose their own safety over that of their young. He also encouraged people to get involved with helping cranes and their survival. The ICF webpage is www.savingcranes.org and has a lot of information, he said.