New summer areas and mixing of two greater sandhill crane populations in the Intermountain West

Daniel P. Collins, Blake A. Grisham, Courtenay M. Conring, Jeffrey M. Knetter, Warren C. Conway, Scott A. Carleton, Matthew A. Boggie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Population delineation throughout the annual life cycle for migratory birds is needed to formulate regional and national management and conservation strategies. Despite being well studied continentally, connectivity of sandhill crane Grus canadensis populations throughout the western portion of their North American range remains poorly described. Our objectives were to 1) use global positioning system satellite transmitter terminals to identify summer distributions for the Lower Colorado River Valley Population of greater sandhill cranes Grus canadensis tabida and 2) determine whether intermingling occurs among any of the western greater sandhill crane populations: Rocky Mountain Population, Lower Colorado River Valley Population, and Central Valley Population. Capture and marking occurred during winter and summer on private lands in California and Idaho as well as on two National Wildlife Refuges: Cibola and Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuges. A majority of marked greater sandhill cranes summered in what is established Lower Colorado River Valley Population breeding areas in northeastern Nevada and southwestern Idaho. A handful of greater sandhill cranes summered outside of traditional breeding areas in westcentral Idaho around Cascade Reservoir near Donnelly and Cascade, Idaho. For example, a greater sandhill crane colt captured near Donnelly in July 2014 survived to winter migration and moved south to areas associated with the Rocky Mountain Population. The integration of the greater sandhill crane colt captured near Donnelly provides the first evidence of potential intermingling between the Lower Colorado River Population and Rocky Mountain Population. We suggest continued marking and banding efforts of all three western populations of greater sandhill cranes will accurately delineate population boundaries and connectivity and inform management decisions for the three populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1944-687X
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Grus canadensis
  • Lower Colorado River Valley population
  • Movements
  • Rocky mountain population
  • Sandhill crane
  • Summer distribution


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