The tallest bird in the UK is finding its way back into the country's waterways and wetlands.
Decades of hard work are seeing the results! Conservation efforts that started way back in 1979 have resulted in the comeback of cranes, the tallest birds in the UK at about 4 feet in height. According to Good News Network, these birds haven't been seen since the 1600s! Now there are almost 200 individuals in the country. “It is always great to get the opportunity to celebrate a real conservation success story and UK cranes is one of these,” said Andrew Stanbury, a Conservation Scientist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
400 Years After Being Wiped Out by Hunters Britain's Wild Cranes Make a ⁰Comeback https://t.co/3jpip3YpXc— Vitality Connection (@vitalityconnect) February 16, 2021
Due to hunting and wetland loss, the common crane, or Eurasian crane ended up becoming extinct. Back in the Middle Ages, the crane had been a common breeding bird in Britain. Organizations like the RSPB and the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust (WWT) have formed The Great Crane Project helped in conservation efforts by methods such as massive translocation of birds from Germany into breeding sites in UK wetlands. “Thanks to a successful conservation partnership,” said Stanbury in a media release, “we are welcoming a charismatic species back in our countryside following a 400-year absence.”
“The success of the crane project to date shows what can be achieved in a short space of time by giving nature a helping hand”— WWT (@WWTworldwide) April 23, 2020
Dr Geoff Hilton, Head of Conservation Evidence on this year's record crane numbers > https://t.co/4Tkk8DRI2r@RSPBScience @Pensthorpe @ViridorCredits pic.twitter.com/IU8ihjmQbB
According to RSPB, " The Great Crane Project team has ambitious plans to re-introduce European cranes to the southwest of England, helping to restore a healthy population throughout the UK. A small breeding population became re-established in Norfolk in the late 1970s, but this group appeared vulnerable. It was considered that successful recolonization of the UK from the Norfolk population would be unlikely to occur unaided in the foreseeable future. Successful initiatives with red kites and white-tailed eagles have shown that re-introduction projects can be very effective. Initial feasibility work looked at a number of UK wetlands for crane re-introduction and the Somerset Levels and Moors emerged as having the greatest potential."
As for the bird's personality, their mating behavior is said to be a loud and joyous display of courtship. They perform bows, pirouettes, and bobs, according to the BBC. Their recovery has been slow over the years, but experts are glad to see them come back. It was believed that only one more breeding pair came up in 2019 from 2018. But the RSPB says population modeling suggests that "the number will swell much faster soon, as the fecundity of the surviving birds improves with age and second-generation chicks reach breeding age."
Chrissie Kelley, from the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust in Norfolk, said, “We are thrilled to see wild cranes doing so well. Seeing these birds in flight is breath-taking and we have regular sightings of them over our reserve.” Damon Bridge, from the UK Crane Working Group, added, “The increase of cranes over the last few years shows just how resilient nature can be when given the chance. They are not yet out of the woods, but their continued population climb year-after-year is a very positive sign.”