Body mass of adult female and male sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) increased an average of 17 and 20%, respectively, from early September to late October on staging areas in central North Dakota and varied by year. Increases in body mass averaged 550 and 681 g among female and male G. c. canadensis, respectively, and 616 and 836 g among female and male G. c. rowani. Adult and juvenile G. c. rowani were lean at arrival, averaging 177 and 83 g of fat, respectively, and fat reserves increased to 677 and 482 g by mid-October. Fat-free dry mass increased by 12% among juveniles, reflecting substantial growth, but remained constant among adults. The importance of fall staging areas as conditioning sites for sandhill cranes, annual variation in body mass, and vulnerability of cranes to habitat loss underscore the need to monitor status of fall staging habitat in the northern plains region and to take steps to maintain suitable habitat where necessary.
Additional publication details
Conditioning of sandhill cranes during fall migration