Great Basin Naturalist


We examined patterns of habitat use by Greater Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) in the Intermountain West, April–October 1991–92, to determine whether cranes exhibited a specific preference for crops, fields, and areas within a field. This information will help farmers and wildlife managers direct nonlethal control methods to the sites where crane damage is most likely to occur. We conducted surveys along two 37-km transects weekly in Cache Valley, Utah, and biweekly in Bear River Valley, Rich County, Utah, and Lincoln County, Wyoming. We recorded 5814 cranes in 662 separate groups. Most were located in pasture/hay (34%), small grain (39%), alfalfa (9%), plowed (9%), fallow (4%), or corn (1%) fields. An index of feeding activity for each field and habitat type suggested cranes fed at approximately the same rate in each field and habitat type. Crane diurnal activity patterns during summer and fall revealed that grainfields were used heavily throughout the day.