Sandhill Cranes

SANDHILL CRANESCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.The Platte River, running from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado through Nebraska, is the roosting home of many migratory birds, most notably a half a million sandhill cranes. In the last few decades, the river has been drastically altered by water development projects, and these changes threaten the cranes’ existence. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Pembleton: “One of the best kept wildlife secrets in this country is the migration of sandhill cranes which arrive in central Nebraska along the Platte river each spring as they’re migrating north to their nesting grounds in the Canada, Alaska, and Siberian Arctic.”Ed Pembleton is the director of the Water Resources Program for the National Audubon Society. Pembleton: “The number of native wet meadows has been declining. As the Platte has shrunk, more and more of that land is converted to crop land. But we are concerned that the amount of wet meadows and the health of the wet meadows is maintained so the sandhill cranes have adequate feeding areas which is depended upon their nesting success.” “The other consequence of this loss of the water is that brush is beginning to grow along the river, and that brushy habitat is very detrimental to the sandhill cranes.” The cranes have been forced to gather in smaller areas creating overcrowded conditions and increasing their exposure to danger. Pembleton: “In effect, what happens when you have half a million birds concentrated in such a small area, the population size is similar to being one. You could shoot the whole works real easy with some natural or man made catastrophe. With better management of the habitat and restoration of the habitat we could spread these birds out along the traditional use of the river, we think.”This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Sandhill Cranes

As water projects drain a Midwestern river, the resting places for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds are threatened. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration.
Air Date:06/29/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

SANDHILL CRANESCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.The Platte River, running from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado through Nebraska, is the roosting home of many migratory birds, most notably a half a million sandhill cranes. In the last few decades, the river has been drastically altered by water development projects, and these changes threaten the cranes' existence. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Pembleton: "One of the best kept wildlife secrets in this country is the migration of sandhill cranes which arrive in central Nebraska along the Platte river each spring as they're migrating north to their nesting grounds in the Canada, Alaska, and Siberian Arctic."Ed Pembleton is the director of the Water Resources Program for the National Audubon Society. Pembleton: "The number of native wet meadows has been declining. As the Platte has shrunk, more and more of that land is converted to crop land. But we are concerned that the amount of wet meadows and the health of the wet meadows is maintained so the sandhill cranes have adequate feeding areas which is depended upon their nesting success." "The other consequence of this loss of the water is that brush is beginning to grow along the river, and that brushy habitat is very detrimental to the sandhill cranes." The cranes have been forced to gather in smaller areas creating overcrowded conditions and increasing their exposure to danger. Pembleton: "In effect, what happens when you have half a million birds concentrated in such a small area, the population size is similar to being one. You could shoot the whole works real easy with some natural or man made catastrophe. With better management of the habitat and restoration of the habitat we could spread these birds out along the traditional use of the river, we think."This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.