STATUS AND BEHAVIOR OF THE BLACK-NECKED CRANE (GRUS NIGRICOLLIS) IN THE ALTUN MOUNTAIN RESERVE, XINJIANG

Paul J. Buzzard, Tong Zhang, Ming Ma, Peng Ding, Feng Xu
Chinese Birds
- 2012

The Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) is an endemic species of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, with its population in Xinjiang largely found in the Kunlun and Altun mountain regions. A survey of the distribution, population dynamics, flock size and behavior was conducted in Altun Mountain National Natural Reserve from September to November 2011. We investigated the size and distribution of its population in this area with a sample spot survey and by direct counting. We found Black-necked Cranes on the wetlands of Wuzunxiaoer, Yusup Aleksei, Yaziquan, Qimantag, Tula Ranch and elsewhere, where we recorded 126 individual birds of the species in Yixiekepati (37°15′–37°23′N, 90°11′–90°20′E, elevation 3903 m), the largest population we have observed in this area. In the reserve, the population consists of about 180–200 birds. Combined with previous records, we conclude that more than 260 Black-necked Cranes live in Xinjiang. Cranes gathered conspicuously in the middle of October where the highest number of birds appeared on 29 October. All of the cranes had migrated out of this area by 6 November. Time budgets and diurnal behavior rhythms of Blacknecked Cranes were observed in the Yixiekepati wetland at daylight (from 06:00 to 18:00). Foraging was the most prevalent type of behavior during the autumn period, accounting for 58.9% of the diurnal time budget, followed by preening (13.2%), vigilance (9.5%), walking (8.2%), flying (3.5%), resting (3.4%), chirping (2.7%) and other types of behavior (0.6%).

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