Greater Sandhill Cranes: Fattening Up: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Apr 20, 2012
Scientist: Rick Schnaderbeck

Greater Sandhill Cranes: Fattening Up

Greater Sandhill Cranes:  Fattening Up
Greater Sandhill Cranes come to Colorado's San Luis Valley to get in shape for their summer breeding grounds.

Sandhill Cranes - Fattening Up

Music; Ambiance: Greater Sandhill Cranes cooing

JM: This month Greater Sandhill Cranes are passing through Colorado on their way up to their summer breeding grounds in the northern prairies, and one of the best places to see and hear them is in the San Luis Valley. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. We're in Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado's San Luis Valley, with the refuge's assistant manager, Rick Schnaderbeck.

RS: "And just watch some of these from up real high. They will be half a mile away, they will just lock their wings and they won't flap a beat. They come right in. It's just pure beauty."

RS: "Six foot wing span. They are like a big jumbo jet coming in for a landing. Like these birds here, now they are about ten feet off the ground. Watch they will lower their legs, there they go. Then they will flap one or two times and they will be on the ground. Then these birds here when they are in the San Luis Valley, are really intent on feeding. They actually gain about ten percent of their body weight here. They are actually going through like oh you know like a marathon runners do. Their carbohydrate load before a big event. That is what these birds are doing here now. Cause they literally come to the San Luis Valley to get in shape for their breeding grounds."

RS: "So what we do both on the refuge and on private land is to provide a lot of grain mainly in the form of barley and in wheat and that seems to working quite well."

JM: Please visit our website at Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.