Our cranes have reached their wintering areas

Submitted by Looduskalender EN on Thu, 11.01.2018 - 10:58

Text Aivar Leito

Photos Leho Luigujõe

Translation Liis

Estonian text posted 05.01.2018

Cranes in wintering area



The migration map of the cranes shows that all the Estonian cranes with transmitters have reached their winter quarters.

Their autumn migration was again very interesting and gave us much more knowledge about migration paths and wintering areas as well as migration behaviour.

The cranes Mati (born in 2016) and Loode (born in 2017) from the same breeding area in Sõrve in Saaremaa spend winter together in western Spain in Extremadura, and crane Liiva provided with a transmitter in Liiva in Muhu in the summer 2017  has moved in a little more to the east in central Spain (distance from the hatching place nearly 3000 km). The parents of the young cranes with transmitters are not marked but very possibly Mati and Loode are offspring of the same crane pair.

Crane „Paslepa“ who was marked last summer near Paslepa in Noarootsi in Läänemaa has stayed for wintering much closer to home (nearly 1600 km) in north-eastern France near the German border. All these four cranes from western Estonia have used the West-European migration path as we expected.

Crane „Hauka 3“, who was hatched last summer near Otepää however has been tricky! From the hatching spot we presumed that he might simply and in  a straight line go along the longest East European migration path to Ethiopia but actually he has turned out to be a short-distance migrator or weather bird whose characteristic was to travel as little as possible and to winter as near home as possible.  The crane has stayed, going back and forth between Hungary-Serbia-Croatia depending on the weather and food availability. Lately he has stayed in the northern part of Horvatia and the border area of Bosnia and Herzegovina. from the hatching place at about1600 km, the same distance as Paslepa but on the Baltic-Hungarian or Central Europe migration path.

The same migration route was also used by crane Ivar (hatched 2016) from Soitsjärve in Jõgevamaa Aivar and Uko (hatched 2017) from the same clutch but they continued the migration from Hungary and reached Tunisia in Northern Africa by way of Northern Italy which was also the end of this migration path, with the wintering area. almost 2900 km away from the hatching area. Evidently Ivar, Aivar and Uko also have the same parents.

A crane marked in last summer, 2016, Ahja 5, spent the whole summer in South Ukraine and flew to spend winter in Israel (from the hatching place1400 and 2900 km) where cranes are actively fed with corn and other grains which is also evidently the main reason why our crane has not gone on to Ethiopia.  

Crane chick Mustakurnu marked near Ahja in Musatakurnu last summer also used the Eastern European migration path and reached southern Israel on November 3rd where however the connection to its GPS-GSM transmitter broke off and has not been restored yet. While at the last located point the crane was in flight crossing the Sinai peninsula so we assume that he is alive and that the data connection simply does not work or that he has despite this been killed somewhere further away and that the transmitter is in place or buried under something which does not allow connection. We may get an answer to that if he should reach again a territory with data connection some time in April on the migration back to Europe:.

On the whole it can be said that the migration paths of the majority of the cranes agreed quite well with what we had presumed and that the general idea-hypothesis that the cranes breeding in the western part of Estonia mainly use the most westerly West European migration path („Ivar“, „Aivar“, „Uko“ and „Hauka 5“) and the more towards east the more the Eastern European migration path takes over („Ahja 5“ and „Mustakurmu“).

See the migration paths of our cranes and other migrating birds on the Bird Migration Map web page: http://birdmap.5dvision.ee/EN/


New Year Greetings!

Aivar Leito aka Uncle Crane


Sookured talvitusalal 
Cranes in wintering area

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