- Rob Fowler, Celeste Pryor and I had a Demoiselle Crane in with the
Sandhill Cranes at the Sandhill Crane Preserve in San Joaquin County
on Woodbridge Rd east of I5. We looked it over carefully and it did
not have any leg bands. The primaries appeared normal and the overall
plumage appeared fresh. It took off and flew with a flock of
sandhills. My assumption was that it was an escaped bird from some
local farm. Other birders have raised some interesting points
relating to cranes, their migration and status as a captive bird.
Does anyone have any comments about Demoiselle Cranes in the U.S.?
Any chances this was a vagrant from eastern Russia?
- An update on the Crane.
I rode my bike down to the spot for the Demoiselle Crane this
afternoon. The field where the bird had been seen had very few Cranes in
it (<20). However, a corn field farther to the west and on the southside
of Woodbridge Rd. was being harvested and it was loaded with birds. There
were well over 250 Sandhill Cranes in this field and over 100 more in an
adjacent field resting. Unfortunately, as I was on my bike I had only my
binoculars (scope is to heavy to carry on my bike from Sacramento). I am
99.9% sure that the bird was in the adjacent field. I needed the scope to
My guess is the bird is still there and the Cranes will be feeding in this
newly harvested field. Somebody should check it tomorrow morning.
- The Demoiselle Crane was very prominent this afternoon at the
Isenberg viewing area on Woodbridge Road, Lodi. It was at the
Isenberg site on Woodbridge Road. It flew into the area, according
to a birder who had been there most of the day, with a group of
Sandhills at about 2:00 pm. I was very fortunate to arrive just after
that and several sets of spotting scopes were focused on the
Demoiselle. There were several hundred Sandhills in the area.
However, the Demoiselle was in the water area closest to the road,
about 300 feet from the viewing area, and could be easily seen with
decent field glasses. I was in the area only about one-half an hour
and the Demoiselle was still there when I left. It appears to me
that this area might be quite crowded in the upcoming days. As I was
leaving, a very nice lady from Massachusettes, who had arrived in
California for a pre-planned pelegic trip had made a special detour
today and was rewarded with the sighting.
- Dear Birders,
I've been "discussing" the Demoiselle Crane with the Hungarians (it's an
irregular vagrant there), and assuming that the bird showed no signs of
previous captivity, they had no problem with the idea of the bird showing
up on North America's western half on its own.
This reminds me of something that I don't understand about Mexican
vagrants: somebody wrote a couple years ago about the Gray Silky or the
Blue Mockingbird that it would have had to have crossed the Sonoran Desert
to get here, another nail in their coffins in terms of CBRC
accepatance. Hm...wouldn't that also preclude the Nutting's Flycatcher in
Orange County and the Rufous-backed Robin near Anza Borrego???
A bird's being "pretty" is a two-edged sword: yeah, it could be an
escapee, but we could also be overly prejudiced against a naturally
2445 Oswego Street
Pasadena, CA 91107
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- At 10:37 PM 10/17/01 -0700, Thomas Miko wrote:
> I've been "discussing" the Demoiselle Crane with the Hungarians (it's an
>irregular vagrant there), and assuming that the bird showed no signs of
>previous captivity, they had no problem with the idea of the bird showing
>up on North America's western half on its own.
> This reminds me of something that I don't understand about Mexican
>vagrants: somebody wrote a couple years ago about the Gray Silky or the
>Blue Mockingbird that it would have had to have crossed the Sonoran Desert
>to get here, another nail in their coffins in terms of CBRC
>accepatance. Hm...wouldn't that also preclude the Nutting's Flycatcher in
>Orange County and the Rufous-backed Robin near Anza Borrego???
> A bird's being "pretty" is a two-edged sword: yeah, it could be an
>escapee, but we could also be overly prejudiced against a naturally
The California Bird Records Committee solicits all documentation for the
Demoiselle Crane, and will attempt to weigh all the evidence in reaching
a decision about the identification (that part should be simple) and
natural origin of the bird
As for the Blue Mockingbird and Gray Silky-Flycatcher, I don't believe
any CBRC member held the opinion that such birds could not cross expanses
of inappropriate habitat (such as the Sonoran Desert); there are far more
factors to consider (appearance and behavior of the bird, timing and
location, status in captivity, and patterns of vagrancy, just to name
a few). These are difficult decisions, and simplistic reasons for
accepting or rejecting the records are not appropriate.
Also, bear in mind that decisions by the CBRC (and I note that the
Blue Mockingbird record is currently still in circulation) can
certainly be revisited and possibly reversed as additional information
comes to light.
Kimball L. Garrett
Ornithology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA
(213) 746-2999 FAX
- Beyond the eventual review by the CBRC, the Demoiselle Crane record must
also be reviewed by the editors of the Middle Pacific Coast Region for
possible publication in "North American Birds" magazine for the fall
season. I am thus one of five editors that will make an evaluation
independent of anything the CBRC might do, and we are also thus
collecting information on the variety of topics that go into the type of
analysis discussed by Kimball Garrett. In that respect I and others
have been gathering information, and we welcome anything that might be
sent to any of us.
Thanks to a phone discussion last week with Tori Kaldenberg at the
International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, I have obtained a
preliminary list of Demoiselle Cranes in captivity in North America as
of June 2001 that are in zoos or other semi-public hands. We did not
recognize all the names but I present the fairly complete preliminary
listing below. She considers this species to be "fairly common" in
captivity in zoos, and "one of the more common cranes" in captivity in
private hands. Alas, there is no listing of Demoiselle Cranes in private
hands. She believes that the number held privately may be less than the
number held by zoos, but it could be more. It is not possible to trace
all the private holdings in the U.S. and Canada.
As to zoos and other public or semi-public holdings, as of 6/30/01
there were 48 males, 45 females, and 10 of unknown sex, for a total of
103 in this type of holding. If was assume about the same number in
private hands (likely a fair assumption), there are in the neighborhood
of 200 in captivity in North America.
Here is a partial listing that I was able to take down over the
phone: Montgomery Alabama (1); Omaha NE (4), Prospect UT (2), San Diego
Wild Animal Park (2), St. Paul MN (2), Tracy Aviary UT (2), New York
Bronx (2), Petersboro (2), Redwood (state?) (1), Seattle WA (2), West
Orange (state?) (4), Nat'l Zoo in Washington, D.C. (2), Pittsburg (PA?)
(1), San Antonio TX (2), Sedgwick Co. Zoo KS (2), Toledo OH (2), Wild
World (state?) (2), Oklahoma OK (2), Pittsburg (CA?) (2), San Diego Zoo
(2), St. Louis MO (2), Toronto (3), Winnipeg (3).
Note the wide dispersal and distribution with holdings that are
rather evently scattered across the U.S. and Canada without significant
concentrations in any particular region. We don't know if the same is
true for private holdings.
Ms. Kaldenberg opined that "likely a strong majority" of zoo birds
would be banded, but there is no requirement that any of these cranes be
banded. She did not know what the likelihood of banding was for private
holdings of cranes. There is also no requirement that privately-held
cranes be banded.
As to the issue of the ability to fly, she mentioned a recent project
to re-establish a population of Whooping Cranes in Florida among
wintering Sandhills which involved weekly flights of the imprinted
Whooping Cranes with an ultralight glider. The muscle mass of these
regularly-flown birds was compared to that of captive birds which were
not flown. The surprising preliminary results are that there is not much
difference in muscle mass between the two sets of cranes.
Pacific Grove CA
- Here are Tori Kaldenberg's clarifying comments after reading my post
This information is correct. About the banding in private hands-banding
the only easy way to tell birds apart in a group so if a private breeder
raised more than one bird of a species, they should be banded.
Then about the muscle mass difference. Just so you know, there never
"research" quality data here. One person mentioned that the body
seemed similar in both groups. So, "body condition index" might be a
way of putting it. We never really calculated muscle mass even though
is the terminology I used during our last talk.
I appreciate the fine-tuning of these points.
Cheers, Don Roberson