Cautious optimism for cranes

By Susan Aielo • Published: March 4th, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

If you’ve been to a wetland area in Florida, or a nice golf course, chances are you’ve probably spotted a sandhill crane dotting the landscape.

Few realize these graceful birds once faced extinction. In the nineteenth century, hunting and habitat loss greatly reduced their numbers.

Thanks to conservation measures, levels rebounded to the current North American population of more than half a million.

But these stately birds are still at risk, and the Cuban and Mississippi subspecies are critically endangered. Over-hunting, loss of habitat and sprawl pose the biggest threats.

Large-scale deaths have been linked to consumption of grains tainted with fungal toxins. Collisions with power lines, fences and vehicles also cause problems for cranes.

Want to help? Don’t feed the birds, which draws them deeper into dangerous urban areas. And try to keep reflective surfaces covered. Following these tips could keep these majestic citizens of the Sunshine State a little safer.