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Crane Count project

Annual Crane Count

The Crane count has been running annually since 1997 to monitor the population of Sarus Cranes (Antigone antigone gillae) who migrate from the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York to winter on the Atherton Tablelands. The Atherton Tablelands were designated as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in 2009, part of a global network of protected areas. The cranes are a key species within the KBA. Organised with the support of Birdlife North Queensland and a great team of volunteers.

Held on a weekend in September each year, the day is separated into two parts. The first part is driven transects on predefined routes between 12:00 and 2:00 pm looking for Cranes (both Sarus and Brolga) foraging in flocks. We count both species and try to identify the crop they are feeding on. The second part is a count as the cranes come into roost. This is carried out at multiple roosting areas across the Tablelands starting 2 hours prior to dusk and carrying on till dark. We like to round off the day with a bite to eat and a tally of the count at a local restaurant or pub, followed by a talk from a guest speaker.



Each year a report is produced to share the current roost count and day transect data, as well as provide some analysis and context researchers, land managers, and other stakeholders. We sincerely thank all volunteers for their participation. Without you this two-decade study would not be possible. 

Volunteers needed

Each year we need volunteers to help us count! It’s always a fun day out and a great chance to meet other birders and spend some time watching a truly amazing species. No experience necessary and we always welcome new counters but we do encourage previous counters to get in touch as their experience is vital and greatly appreciated.

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