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Kachemak Crane Watch

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Kachemak Crane Watch
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KBBI's Emilie Springer talked with Nina Faust with Kachemak Crane Watch about Homer area sightings.

Over the past weekend I heard a rumor of a cranes arriving in Homer and thought there would be no

one better to check in with than Nina Faust who established Kachemak Crane Watch with Ed Bailey in

1996 and still manages the program though it’s now operational through Center for Alaskan Coastal

Studies. I talked to her on Saturday and as of that day, the birds were still overhead.

“So, this year the first citing was on April 13th of a Sandhill crane flying about a hundred feet high out

on East End Road at about mile 1.5, heading west. But that doesn't mean they're officially here. That

could be a bird that's heading across the inlet to the Alaska Peninsula. I don't count them officially

arrived in Homer until I get a sighting from on the ground. So, I would say keep looking because they're

going to start Landing any day now.”

She explains a little more about the organization: “It’s a citizen science project based program that

relies on reports from local residents who watch cranes, or live with cranes, and we are we are

interested in keeping track of their distribution throughout the area from the head of the bay all the way

south to Anchor Point.”

They also collect information such as nests reported, number of hatchlings, and how many birds

fledge at the end of year for statistics. I ask about the general population size and she reports with

substantial scientific background data, that it’s not fully quantified because it’s based on end of the

season slough counts in late August and early September.

However, she does provide this: “we used to say there was only about 200 in the beginning, when we

first started Kachemak Crane Watch and I think now it's probably more like 3 to 400. There's a lot out

there and I know there's more that's not being reported.”

“Our population is Pacific Flyway. They go from here all the way down to California and then they'll

come back up along the coast to Homer. A lot of them go on past Homer, they go across the inlet and

then they go out on the Alaska Peninsula. There's another Flyway that comes up the Mid-Continent and

that group goes through, Nevada, Nebraska into Canada and then flies up into the interior of Alaska and

up into the Arctic and all the way across over to Siberia.”

Here she gives some insight in some of the best viewing opportunities for cranes later in the year. “If

you want a good opportunity to see cranes, because we have the boardwalks going along the slough

that goes from the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center down through the slough over to Bishop's Beach

and then there's that little gravel path that goes out to the to the picnic table. I've sat at that table with

some folks from out of town and they were just about to leave but the (crane) family, the boardwalk

pair, that we call them. They were over just a short distance away grazing with their youngsters. And as

they were about to leave I said, you know, if you hang here for about 10 more minutes, you're probably

going to get the best photographs of your life with these cranes. So they sat down again and sure

enough the family came right over to the table and walked right past us to the other part of the slew

closer towards The Bishop's Beach. They were like 30 feet away if that and so those folks were just

ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic.”

If you see a crane, please report it! Go to www.cranewatch.org for more information about what to

report and the ways that you can make a report.