I thought these 2 recent posts on NHBIRD listserve might be of interest to
VT birders.  They refer to a Sandhill Crane that has been hanging out in a
Monroe, NH farm field (w/Holsteins) over the past few weeks, probably the same
individual that has stopped over at this site during the previous 4 autumns.
The species' eastward expansion of its breeding range suggests that Vermont
birders, and particularly breeding bird atlasers, should keep an eye out for
summer birds.  I'd agree with Jim Berry's assessment of the need to "guard"
locations of any breeding sites that might be discovered.


Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003
To: New Hampshire Birds <[log in to unmask]>
From: Pam Hunt <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Sandhill Crane in NH

Greetings all:

>Can anyone tell me how often Sandhill Cranes are found in NH?

Here's my take on the issue. For quite a while, Sandhill Cranes were
a less-than-annual visitor to NH, usually in spring and fall
migration. Over the last 3-5 years, however, they seem to have been
increasing, and even started to hang around in the summer (this is
the 5th year for the bird in Monroe). Recent records have included:
Monroe, Lancaster (possibly the same bird?), Lebanon, Boscawen,
Concord, Bradford, and Newington, so the pattern seems to be more
western than anything else. This makes a certain amount of sense, if
one considers that the species has been increasing in the Midwest and
Ontario. Finally, there is no better indication of this changing
distribution pattern then the fact that cranes have NESTED for three
years in a row (2000-2002, don't know about 2003 yet) in Kennebec
County, Maine (location undisclosed). This is several hundred miles
farther east than any known breeding records, and is almost certainly
the first nesting in New England EVER. For those wishing to know
more details about Sandhill Crane distribution patterns in NH, I'm
contemplating an article for NH Bird Records, but you'll have to wait
a few months both for me to get started on it and then for the issue
to actually come out.

Pam Hunt
Northfield, NH

From: "Jim Berry" <[log in to unmask]>
To: New Hampshire Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Sandhill Crane in NH
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003

 Thanks to Pam Hunt for providing the background for the eastward expansion
of sandhill cranes over the last few years. To add a few things gleaned
from recent issues of North American Birds: from their (formerly)
easternmost nesting grounds in s. Michigan, they have moved into
east-central Ohio, where they were first confirmed nesting in 1987 (from the
Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas). They are also nesting in nw. Pennsylvania, where
they were "firmly established" by 2001. The regional editor for New York
said in 2002 that breeding confirmation there was only a matter of time,
given the further extension of nesting into s. Ontario and Maine that Pam
mentioned. (The most recent new Ont. nesting locations in the NAB reports
are in the areas directly north of western NY.) Now that they have begun
nesting in Maine, Vermont and NH can't be far behind, if they haven't nested
there already.
Another interesting question is whether they nested in New England before
the Europeans came. This is a subject of debate, since older references
allude to it but don't give any specifics. Mostly it seems like conjecture
on the part of long-gone authors, though there are old specimens from the
region that establish at least the earlier vagrancy of the species here.
This is what Wayne Petersen had to say about it in the NAB nesting-season
report for 2002:
"Historical accounts suggest that the Sandhill Crane was a regular migrant
in New England several centuries ago, and that occasional breeding may even
have occurred. However, 'there are records that unambiguously document
breeding by Sandhhill Cranes in Maine or New England.'" Wayne cited Scott
Melvin's article on this subject in Vol. 9 pp. 193-202 of the Northeastern
Naturalist if anybody wants to review it. (I don't have that journal.)
It could be that New England will soon have a lot more nesting sandhills if
this trend continues. It is a species to watch closely when birds are found
in the spring and summer. But if nesting is suspected or confirmed, the
locations should not be broadcast. They should be reported to ASNH or the
state wildlife authorities, but need to be protected from general

Jim Berry
Ipswich, Mass.

Chris Rimmer
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
27023 Church Hill Road
Woodstock, VT 05091
802-457-2779 ext 120