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Virtual birding seminar on cranes set for Thursday

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A virtual birding seminar will discuss cranes on March 3 with four leading experts in the field. Photo courtesy Bryan CalkA virtual birding seminar will discuss cranes on March 3 with four leading experts in the field. Photo courtesy Bryan Calk

By Susan Himes
AgriLife Extension

A virtual birding seminar, Up Close with Cranes, will be held March 3 from 6-8:30 p.m.

The cost of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service event is $15, and preregistration is required at https://tx.ag/UpCloseWithCranes. The event is part of the Birding with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program.

“In the U.S., we have a dichotomy of cranes,” said Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Uvalde. “While whooping cranes are endangered and protected, sandhill cranes are abundant and managed with regulated hunting.”

The webinar will feature speakers who will take participants up close with America’s native cranes and explore their similarities and differences. They also will share new research and ‘behind the gates’ habitat management, said Frank.

“We have four speakers in 2.5 hours, so the pace of the event is meant to be engaging as we consider the two similar yet different species,” said Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Gillespie County.

Grant said although speakers are coming from around the country, birds bring everyone together and many of the topics discussed will sound familiar to Texas birders.

“This virtual seminar is designed to give us a peek into the world of cranes,” she said.

On the agenda

The seminar speakers are prominent leaders and scientists dedicated to crane research, preservation and management.

Liz Smith, Ph.D., is the North American program director for the International Crane Foundation. She previously served as a research scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and developed the Texas Whooping Crane Program.

Dave Baasch, Ph.D., is a threatened and endangered species specialist for The Crane Trust. In addition to whooping cranes and sandhill cranes, Baasch has studied interior least terns, piping plovers, deer and elk. He will discuss management implications for the two North American crane species.

Sara Zimorski is a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. She leads the effort to reintroduce and establish a population of whooping cranes in the state after an absence of over 60 years. Previously, Zimorski worked for the International Crane Foundation.

Emily Wells works in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California as the conservation program manager on Staten Island, working with sandhills cranes and other water birds. Her presentation will focus on the importance of working lands for conservation.

The next Birding with Extension event, Birding the Hill Country, is already full, said Frank, but more birding opportunities will be announced later this year. She encourages birders to join the weekly Wednesday Cup Chat at 7:30 a.m. on Facebook, where the team will announce other upcoming events. Past Cup Chat topics can be found on their YouTube channel.

For additional information on upcoming birding events, visit wildlife.tamu.edu/birding/.

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