A common sight in our area:
There may have been more people who noticed right-wing birds along the way, and heard their trumpet-like cries in the spring. A few years ago, this was a rare sight that could only be experienced in the wild. Trollheimsporten spoke to biologist Tor Ålbu from Rindal about cranes.
Long drive time in Rendall
– The earliest records we have of cranes nesting at Rindal and Meldal are really from the 1960s. At the time they were a rare sight, and you had to sit in cover to be able to observe them, Albo says. – In the early 70’s we managed to record two nesting pairs in Lomundsjø. I remember being with Asbjørn Borset making food for them. It was a great experience.
The crane now has known nesting sites in Helgetunmarka, by Lake Lomundsjø and next to various tjønna in Igltjønna. Since then, both stores have increased significantly. In Rindal alone, we know of 30-40 nesting pairs, says the observant biologist. – Previously, it was difficult to find them in western Norway, for example. Now the crane has spread all over the country, and last year I found two dozen in Smøla. That was unheard of just a few years ago!
New Behavior – No longer a wild sign
—now they can be noticed at a reasonably close distance, and they often go in large groups and graze in the fields along the way. I myself saw how they tolerate passing walkers a few meters from the nest. They then make themselves almost invisible by standing still and hiding. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when it was classified as a wild bird. Now the birds have changed their behavior and are less shy.
Why do we see such large flocks of cranes in Rendall and Surnadale?
– The birds we see along the way are often small birds. Cranes do not breed until they are 4-5 years old. When they come to Norway in the summer, they often come in groups. They spend the summer searching for a mate and searching for good feeding and nesting sites. You can say that they are in the establishment stage, comments Ålbu. – Now there was a lot of snow in the mountains and cold weather. This can result in nesting not being successful, hence the birds tending to congregate in flocks instead. So a large percentage of the population does not reproduce.
Cranes tourism and photos
Cranes have become a sure sign of spring with their cries in the fields in Rendall and Surnadale. In winter, they stay in warmer regions and fly as far as Spain and southern France. – We know this because we have footprinted some of the local birds, so we can find them again. The funny thing is that they have regular stops on their way north: in northern Germany and at Hornburgasjon in Sweden. Here, they discover that there are plenty of potatoes left in the fields in the spring, which are fancy food for the cranes. Now photo tourism is on a large scale, and you can book a room and stay in a photo hide to experience the “crane dance”. Here, up to 20,000 birds can visit a day, and it’s a solid experience to sit hidden and still be in the crowd.
Bird for trouble?
– We think there will be about 30-40,000 cranes in the spring migration from Spain. It is distributed outside Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia. They mainly eat whatever they come across, and feed well on root tubers and insects. The crane also eats animal food, and can take both eggs and young birds. But on a personal level, I don’t think he’s much of a threat. At Igltjønna, two other birds are near the crane’s nest, and they seem to be walking peacefully. The hooded seagull chased her away, and she probably saw him as a threat.
– So you don’t think it will be described as a pest of agriculture?
Well, some might want to extend it that far. But we’re not there yet, says Tor Albo. They can probably feed themselves well on seeds and potatoes when they come in flocks and stay in one place over time. In Meldal, there are particularly large gatherings in the fall before you fly south, when there can be up to 1,000 birds in the same spot. But I’ve also seen them along the edge of a field here in Rindal. Then I looked through the telescope and saw that they were eager to pull out the roots of the weeds and that they were eating the juicy roots. So maybe they can do some good for themselves too?