On January 15, Alberta birder Norman Parrish discovered, photographed, and reported to eBird a Common Crane (ABA Code 4) at Overton Wildllife Management Area in Clark County, Nevada, near the town of Overton. The bird was associating with a small flock of Sandhill Cranes. Pending acceptance, this would be a first state record for Nevada.
photo by David Vander Pluym, used with permission
Per Carl Lundblad on the Nevada Birds listserv, The Overton WMA can be reached directly from NV Highway 169 which runs from the Lake Mead North Shore Road north to I-15 at Logandale.
Please note that Overton WMA is CLOSED TO BIRDERS ON EVEN-NUMBERED DAYS and on the last weekend of waterfowl hunting season, which is next weekend, Jan 26-27. Birders should avoid the WMA on active hunting days (even-numbered days) both for personal safety and to avoid conflicts with NDOW which allows birders to access the site.
Anybody planning to chase this bird should read carefully the information on the Nevada Department of Wildlife website. There have already been incidents of birders being turned away by wildlife agents for visiting on the wrong day.
While the origin of some Common Cranes in North America is unclear (particularly in the east), Lesser Sandhill Crane, G. c. canadensis,
has a Siberian breeding population that winters in North America. In Russia, Common Crane is an uncommon species that breeds in Western Siberia and southern East Siberia and likely joins up with Lesser Sandhills on their way to North American wintering grounds.
Common Crane was first reported from the ABA Area in 1957. A few Common Crane records in the ABA Area include birds mated with a Sandhill Crane and producing hybrid offspring and one ABA-area Common Crane is a known escapee from a farm in upstate New York (NAB54: 24, 55:152). Most reports of Common Crane in the ABA Area come from two time periods, September-October and March-April (ABA Checklist, Seventh Edition, Pranty et al.). Nebraska is the state from which Common Crane is most often reported, mostly found associating with large flocks of Sandhill Cranes.
This individual is suspected to be the same bird that was seen in Modoc, California, about a month ago. Birders have reported that the cranes are very skittish and observers should take care not to flush the flock.