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Habitat Assessment and Subspecies Identification of Sandhill Cranes Wintering in Louisiana

by McGowan, Joseph Michael

Abstract (Summary)
The two biggest flocks of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) wintering in Louisiana are located in Cheneyville and Holmwood, LA. Resident Sandhill Cranes were once located in Louisiana, but because of habitat loss and over harvest these residents were extirpated from Louisiana in the early 1900s. In the 1960s, migrating Sandhill Cranes had returned to LA and were wintering in Cheneyville. Observations and habitat characteristics were conducted on these two flocks in the winter of 2002 and 2003 because of the lack data on these flocks. The two flocks contained about 1,300 individuals with four other known flocks throughout Louisiana ranging from 16-400 individuals. There were an estimated 2,200 Sandhill Cranes wintering in Louisiana. Morphometric measurements for eight birds fell within the range of the Greater Sandhill Crane (G. c. tabida) subspecies. Middle toe imprint measurements in the winter of 2003 showed no difference in size of cranes in the two flocks during January and February, however there was a difference in middle toe size in December. One radio-marked bird was radio tracked to Cheneyville and Holmwood. Cranes selected roost sites in rice fields with water less than 20 cm deep. Cranes feeding in Cheneyville selected rice fields and corn fields, while the Holmwood birds used rice fields and pastures. Fecal analysis showed that nutsedge tubers (Cyperus spp.), rice (Oryza sativa), and corn (Zea maize) were the major foods consumed in Cheneyville, while the Holmwood birds used mostly nutsedge tubers and rice. Rice was found in feces earlier in the winter and nutsedge was found more frequently later in the winter.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Frank Rohwer; John Andy Nyman; Vernon Wright

School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport

School Location:USA - Louisiana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:forestry wildlife fisheries

ISBN:

Date of Publication:07/31/2003

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