status/origin of Common Crane
- Thought I'd add a little background to Common Crane occurrence in North America, in case it is of any 'help' in people's decisions about chasing the Del Norte County bird. Most of the presumed "good" birds in the U.S. are spring migrants with large concentrations of Sandhill Cranes in the middle of the continent (mostly in Nebraska, also Kansas, NM) in March to very early April, which involve Lesser Sandhills that migrate to and from and through there to breed in Alaska and extreme northeast Russia. There is also a record or two from late April/early May--so same time period as the current bird--from central Alaska (Fairbanks area) also in flocks of migrant Lesser Sandhills that are presumably heading back to w. Alaska and ne. Russia to nest. (The theory is that Common Cranes get entrained with Sandhills in Russia and then follow the latter here to spend the winter--and form mixed-pairs with Sandhills.) But I don't know of any records in the interior
West south of Alaska, except for a bird in late Sep/early Oct a few years ago in ne. Nevada that was either a Common Crane or a hybrid involving a part-Common Crane. Hybrid pairings are known a few times from eastern North America, where mixed-family groups have been noted once each in Indiana and Quebec. A KNOWN ESCAPE Common Crane from upstate NY set up shop for many years in New Jersey and hybridized there with a Sandhill and raised hybrid young.
There has also been the recent Demoiselle Crane in CA and AK--of uncertain origin--and a very recent known escape White-naped Crane in Idaho and nearby states.
Seems slightly odd that this bird would be here in CA (and presumably by itself?) still in early May, rather than following Lesser Sandhills out of the state a month or two ago. But maybe it just arrived, by itself, from a direct cross-ocean flight across the Pacific--although this doesn't seem too likely! Or perhaps.....
--Paul Lehman, San Diego
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