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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Provide supplementary food for cranes to increase adult survival Bird Conservation

Key messages

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A before-and-after study from Japan and a global literature review found that local crane populations increased after the provision of supplementary food.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A before-and-after study of red-crowned cranes Grus japonensis in Hokkaido, Japan, in the mid-20th century (Masatomi 1991) found that a local population increased from 42 individuals in 1952-4 to 161 in 1960-4. This followed the establishment of an artificial feeding station in 1952, and the author attributes the population rise to supplementary food reducing winter mortality, although no data is provided for the use of the feeding station, any reduction in starvation or increase in reproductive productivity. No details are provided about the supplementary food provided.



A 1998 literature review (Davis 1998) found that supplementary feeding of cranes appeared to increase local populations five, and possibly six species of crane in five sites across the world. These were red-crowned cranes Grus japonensis in Hokkaido, Japan (Masatomi 1991); hooded cranes G. monachus and white-naped cranes G. vipio wintering at Izumi, Japan; common cranes G. grus at Lake Hornborga, Sweden; and demoiselle cranes Anthropoides virgo at Khichan in India. It is also possible that winter feeding of whooping cranes G. americana in 1993-4 may have encouraged population growth. The author recommends that supplementary feeding is viewed as a potential short-term practice, but that the risks from spreading disease and increased human disturbances may make it unsuitable as a long-term strategy.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.