What we do
Премия рунета 2017

Cranes were counted during spring migration in Primorsky province

04 april 2022
Ornithologists of Primorye, with the support of WWF-Russia, have counted the cranes returning from wintering grounds to their breeding sites
Primorsky province, as the southern outpost of the Russian Far East, is the first to meet birds returning to their homeland after wintering in warm countries. Wetlands located along the sea coast, as well as the large river valleys and the Khanka lowland are the most important places of passage and concentration of migratory birds.
Comments Anna Serdyuk, Ph.D., head of Freshwater Ecosystems Department of WWF-Russia Amur Branch, chairman of the Russian Working Group on the Oriental Stork Conservation: “The Amur River basin is a region with the highest diversity of cranes species. 6 out of 15 species of cranes in the world are breeding here or meet on migration, including even small-numbered such as Red-crowned cranes and Siberian white cranes. Thus, the south of the Far East is a key area for conservation of these rare birds. Observation of mass migration provides valuable scientific information. Counting numbers in narrow corridors of passage, where birds temporarily concentrate before flying away and getting lost in vast areas for breeding, is one of the most effective ways to obtain objective data on the rare species populations status.”
A mixed flock of Red-crowned and white-naped cranes on transit through the mountains of Primorsky province
From left to right: ornithologists Sergey Gafitsky, Sergey Surmach, Yury Shibaev are counting cranes
Ornithologist Aleksey Filintsev at the autonomous observation post
Using a ladder is a way to scan flat areas
The moment of arrival of the first Red-crowned cranes from Korean wintering grounds on Russian soil, in the Khasansky Nature Park
Cranes are back from wintering grounds to their breeding sites in Russia
Sergey Gafitsky
This spring, starting on March 5, with the support of WWF-Russia Amur branch, specialists from the Federal Scientific Center for Biodiversity of Terrestrial Biota of East Asia of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in cooperation with the public association “Amur-Ussuri Center for Biodiversity of Birds” counted cranes throughout the entire flight, at three observation points located on the territory of Khasansky district of Primorsky province.
“The vast majority of Red-crowned cranes and white-naped cranes migrate through the territory of Primorye. They belong to the eastern group wintering in the south of the Korean Peninsula and on the Izumi island in Japan. According to the obtained data, the number of Red-crowned cranes on migration reaches 1.5 thousand individuals, the white-naped crane - more than 4,5 thousand. Birds migrate in short flight-overs, up to 250-400 kilometers from one stopover to another in order to rest and accumulate resources,” comments Sergey Surmach, senior researcher of the Laboratory of Ornithology of the Federal Scientific Center for Biodiversity of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, coordinator of crane counts on migration.
The most important migratory stopover for cranes in Primorye is the vast coastal lowland located between the estuary part of the Tumannaya (Tumen) River and the Expedition Bay with its core in the Khasansky Nature Park. The vast majority of migratory birds stop here for several days before moving further north.
White-naped cranes on agricultural fields near Mikhailovka village, Primorye
Grass fires have an extremely negative impact on the state of breeding habitats of cranes. Photo by Sergey Surmach
Cranes are back from wintering grounds to their breeding sites in Russia
Sergey Gafitsky
One-time concentration of cranes can exceed 500 individuals. After a short rest, the birds fly off in small and large flocks to the nearest feeding grounds located in the agricultural landscape north of the city of Ussuriysk. The favorite food of cranes during the spring migration period is rice and corn. In the places of cultivation of these crops, concentration of birds can be observed until mid-April, after which the vast majority of cranes fly north to breeding grounds located in hard-to-reach wetlands of the region.
“Observing such large concentrations of cranes, especially near settlements, local people may get an illusion about well-being of these Red Listed species. Unfortunately, the presence of bird concentrations, especially of Red-crowned cranes, does not at all indicate the prosperity of the populations. It must be understood that we are dealing with a unique phenomenon, when the vast majority of the world population of these rare species has temporarily gathered in a limited space. We are just lucky to see them all in one place, even before they scatter and get lost in the vast expanses from Primorye to Amurskaya and Zabaikalsky provinces,”says ornithologist Sergey Surmach.
For additional information please contact
Leading Project coordinator