Frequent Flyer Miles

Sandhill crane / © Angela Dedrickson, USFWS

Band Number: 599-05468

This band was worn for 36 and a half years by a Rocky Mountain sandhill crane (RMSH). It is one of the oldest RMSHs known and the band it wore had limited wear for all that time in the wild. The bird was banded with its brood mate (a two-chick brood) on 29 June 1973, one mile north of Border, WY, on the Thomas Fork of the Bear River.

The brood was apparently chased and caught approximately 150 yards east of the Idaho border in Lincoln County, WY. The bird was between 41-44 days old. In addition to the band, it was marked with a neck collar, which it apparently lost sometime after August 1981, the date of its last sighting in Idaho. The bird was also observed in April 1981 in the San Luis Valley.

The distance “as the crow flies” from Border, WY, to a staging in the San Luis Valley of Colorado and then down the Rio Grande to Bosque del Apache is approximately 700 miles. If you assume this crane returned close to its nesting grounds each spring and back to Bosque del Apache each winter, the band made the round trip 36 times, as well a final one-way trip where it was recovered. That is a total of 51,100 miles in a lifetime, or the equivalent of circling the earth more than twice.