International Crane Foundation

 

Flying with Cranes Migration Activity

Asia: China Program > Flying with Cranes > Flying with Cranes Migration Activity

Learn more about Black-necked Cranes
Did you know that the Black-necked Crane was the last crane species described by scientists? Click here to learn more about this species.

For wildlife species such as the Black-necked Crane that migrate long distances over remote areas, we still have many unanswered questions about their migration. Through this activity, you are invited to join researchers in the United States and China who are exploring questions about bird migration.

Beginning in March 2005 we will follow the migration of Black-necked Cranes captured and banded at Dashanbao Nature Reserve in northeast Yunnan and Cao Hai Nature Reserve in northwest Guizhou, both important wintering areas for Black-necked Cranes. As the birds migrate, we will collect location data from satellite transmitters placed on their backs. Using these data, we will map the birds’ locations, learning about their migration routes and, ultimately, their final stopping points.

2007 Spring Migration Maps
For the 2006 and 2007 spring migrations, ICF has partnered with Signals of Spring, a web-based science curriculum focusing on animal migration, to track the progress of the banded Black-necked Cranes. Click here to follow the banded birds’ 2007 spring migration using interactive maps developed by Signals of Spring.

spring migration
Click here to view a map of the 2005 spring migration.
 
Black-necked Crane
Click here to follow the 2005 spring and fall migration of #55984, a Black-necked Crane that we tracked for over one year!
 
migration route
Data from the banded cranes have provided new information about the migration route of Black-necked Cranes in southwestern China. Click on the map for more information.
 
Project Update: 2007 Spring Migration Completed
We successfully tracked three of the four Black-necked Cranes that were banded in late winter 2006 on a second spring migration to their summering areas in northern Sichuan Province.

Sera (#64311) left her wintering area at Cao Hai Nature Reserve (Guizhou Province) in mid March, arriving at the Ruoergai Marshes around March 21, 2007. Aura (#64309) arrived at the summering area a few days later on March 25, followed by Lumina (#64312) on April 5 – both birds wintered at Dashanbao Nature Reserve (Yunnan Province).

waterbirds at Cao Hai
No. 64311 (right) forages for food with other wintering waterbirds at Cao Hai Nature Reserve after being banded on February 28, 2006.
 
Researchers
Researchers attach a PTT to one of four Black-necked Cranes banded at Dashanbao Nature Reserve in winter 2005.
 
Attention Teachers
Chinese language website
Click here to view the Flying with Cranes website developed for students in China and the United States by Yunnan Normal University in Kunming. (Note that it may take a few minutes to open the site)

Field Journal
ICF’s China Program Coordinator, Dr. Li Fengshan, traveled to Yunnan Province in late February 2005 to assist in banding the four cranes that we tracked in 2005. Click on the Field Journal below to read excerpts from Dr. Li’s field notes from this experience.

Activity Maps
Click on the map link below to download a base map for the migration activity. The 8.5 x 11 inch map is centered on the Black-necked Crane’s wintering area in Yunnan Province and includes latitude and longitude lines for plotting the birds’ northern migration. The map may be used as a handout for students or photocopied onto a transparency for class use.

You may also request a larger version of the map (36" x 45") to display in your classroom. The map includes province boundaries, city names and geographic features, including rivers and lakes. To request a copy of this map, along with general maps of the two main provinces along the migration route (Sichuan and Qinghai) please contact the ICF China Program.

Student Map (pdf 306 KB)
Field Journal (pdf 46 KB)
2005 Spring Migration Coordinate Report (pdf 14 KB)

Meet the Banded Cranes
Each of the Black-necked cranes that we are tracking is fitted with a satellite transmitter and two or more color bands that the researchers use to identify the birds. Following are details on each bird, including their release date and location and band descriptions.

2006 Banded Birds

PTT #64309 (Aura)
Release site: Dahaizi, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve
Capture Time and Date: 14:10, March 20, 2006
Color band combination: Left leg Red/Yellow right leg Red/Yellow
Age: Adult
Body weight: 6.5 kg
Body length: 120 cm
Sex: male(?)
Social status: Observed within a flock

PTT #64310 (Kelby)
Release site: Tiaotunhe, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve
Release Time and Date: 16:30, March 18, 2006
Color band combination: Right leg Yellow/Green/Red
Age: Adult
Body weight: 6 kg
Body length: 120 cm
Social status: Observed within a flock of 10 Black-necked Cranes

PTT #64311 (Sera)
Release site: Bojiwan, Cao Hai National Nature Reserve
Time and Date: 17:30, Feb 28, 2006 (Beijing time)
Color band combination: Left leg Yellow over Red
Age: Adult
Body weight: 6.25 kg
Body length: 117 cm
Social status: Observed with a group of ten Black-necked Cranes

PTT #64312 (Lumina)
Release site: Lelizhai, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve
Time and Date: 15:30, March 18, 2006 (Beijing time)
Color band combination: Left leg Yellow/Greed/Red
Age: Adult
Body length: 110 cm
Body weight: 5.75 kg
Social status: Observed with a group of 12 Black-necked Cranes

2005 Banded Birds

PTT #55981
Release site: Tiaotunhe Reservoir, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve
Time and Date: 13:20, Feb 26, 2005 (Beijing time)
Color band combination: Left leg Red/Green/Yellow
Sex: Male
Social Status: Unknown

PTT #55982
Release site: Dahaizi Reservoir, Dashanao National Nature Reserve
Date and Time: 13:05, March 1, 2005 (Beijing time)
Color band Combination: Left leg Green, right leg Yellow

PTT #55983
Release site: Tiaotunhe Reservoir, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve
Time and Date: 13:20, Feb 26, 2005 (Beijing time)
Color band combination: Left leg Green/Green
Sex: Female
Social Status: Adult female, a family bird with male adult and a chick

PTT #55984 (Sol)
Release site: Dahaizi Reservoir, Dashanao National Nature Reserve
Date and Time: 13:05, March 1, 2005 (Beijing time)
Color band Combination: Left leg Yellow, right leg Green

Banded Cranes
#64311 roosting at Cao Hai Nature Reserve. Click here to enlarge the image and to view the bird’s bands (photo by Muke)
 
How are the birds captured for banding?
Researchers at Dashanbao Nature Reserve are working with local H’mong (Miao) people to capture the cranes using traditional snares that the H’mong use to trap pheasants. The snares, placed in an area frequented by the cranes, safely encircle the crane’s foot, enabling the researchers to approach the birds and capture them for banding.

How are the birds banded?
Once the birds are captured, the researchers will begin the process of examining and banding the cranes. The Chinese researchers weigh the birds and take measurements of the length of their bills, wings and legs. Next, the birds are fitted with small, plastic bands on their legs. These bands are different colors and may have a number engraved on the side. Each bird will have a unique number and color combination, enabling researchers to identify the birds by sight in the future. Finally, the captured birds are fitted with a satellite telemitry transmitter (PTT) that is attached to a Teflon ribbon harness. The harness, which is looped around the crane’s wings and body, is worn like a backpack by the birds. After the researchers have completed banding the birds, they will release each captured crane and observe it until it safely flies away.

Satellite Telemitry Transmitter
Researchers fit a satellite telemitry transmitter (PTT) harness on one of the banded cranes. (Click here to enlarge the image)
 
Banding
No. 55983 is released after banding. Note the green color bands on the bird’s left leg. (Click here to enlarge the image)
 

arrowBack