In 2011 the good folks in Nebraska had some unusual holiday visitors: sandhill cranes. For as long as anyone could remember, they’d never had cranes in winter. Nebraskans called them Christmas cranes.
Now, in 2012, they’re back once again.
Nebraska is world-famous for cranes. Every March, a half-million of these graceful beauties gather along a stretch of the Platte River, where they rest, socialize, and fatten up before heading off to their breeding grounds in the far north. This marvelous spectacle is described as life-changing…something that everyone should see at least once.
In fall, the cranes typically visit Nebraska once again on their way south to their wintering grounds in the Gulf States. But starting in 2011, a few thousand cranes stayed in Nebraska all winter.
Is this climate change?
Why would Sandhill cranes choose a winter in Nebraska over the warm southern states? The most obvious culprit would seem to be climate change, but it’s too soon to say for certain. In order to distinguish a migration anomaly from a trend, scientists would need years of study.
But, global climate change is real —that has been proven to beyond a shadow of a doubt. And, it’s a fact southern states are in the second year of extreme drought. The wetlands that cranes—and many other species—depend on have largely dried up. When their habitat is gone, animals are forced to go elsewhere to look for food, water and shelter. It’s the kind of disruption that we’ve been warned about, and it’s not good news for wildlife. Some species may be able to adapt…but many will not.
I wonder about cranes. I don’t want to wait years and years for more study—or for the economy or business interests or any other excuse.
I want to do something now. How about you?
To learn more:
visit the Crane Trust: http://www.cranetrust.org/newsletter/july-august-2012/winter-cranes-on-the-platte%E2%80%94trend-or-anomaly/
visit Audubon: http://birds.audubon.org/species/sancra or: http://rowe.audubon.org/crane-facts
read more about the Christmas cranes: http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/article_75746704-59eb-11e1-9b33-0019bb2963f4.html
To learn more about birds and climate change: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2019961329_apusbirdsclimatechange.html
If you still need convincing about climate change or know someone who does: http://the-sieve.com/2012/10/27/how-to-win-an-argument-with-a-climate-skeptic/#comments
To learn about the drought in the south: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/in-texas-questions-of-drought-and-climate-change/
Tell me your thoughts! Have you seen sandhill cranes in Nebraska or elsewhere? Are you ready for action on climate change? Can you imagine a world without wildlife? What would you be willing to do to help wildlife?