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Migratory crane flocks draw birders from around the world

March 22, 2023 GMT

CHAPMAN, Neb. (AP) — Whooping cranes are beginning to join around 450,000 migrating sandhill cranes that have flocked to central Nebraska.

Brice Krohn, president of the Crane Trust, said the arrival of the endangered whooping cranes is a big moment for researchers and fans from around the world who come to Nebraska for their annual migration, the Omaha World Herald reports.

There are only 543 in the wild migratory flock, of which fewer than 10 have been spotted so far this season in Nebraska.

“They are just now entering the southern plains and Platte River area,” Krohn said.

Those birds stay only two days to a week before heading to their primary breeding grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada.

The sandhill cranes, which are nesting in an 80-mile (128.75 kilometer) stretch from Chapman to Overton, stay about three weeks to feed in wet meadows and crop fields as the juveniles find a mate. Then they’ll head as far north as eastern Siberia.

New arrivals will replace the cranes as they leave the state, with their numbers diminishing throughout next month.