Hortobágy National Park Directorate
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Directorate - News 2014-03-03

Though the highest culmination of the migration is over, according to the synchronic counting on 13th November more than 37 000 cranes are still staying in Hortobágy.

The number of migrating cranes in Hortobágy is followed by synchronic counting as organized by the Hortobágy National Park Ranger Service. The observers are lining up at cranes’ roosting places, shallow wetlands and fishponds, they divide the horizon into segments and so they can closely estimate the number of the arriving flocks, which approach the roosting place from different directions.

 

Crane migration in Hortobágy (2014) -
Weekly numbers of synchronic count

Comparison of record headcount in recent years

 
The steppes, fishponds and various wetlands of Hortobágy are the most populous overland roosting places in the European migration. 95 percent of the cranes in Hungary are passing through Hortobágy and they spend several months here.

The reason of this record number can be the successful breeding season, either just a timely shift comparing to last year’s migration, or a population rearrangement between migration routes as well.

The migration season starts in September when the weather of the northern breeding areas turns cold, and the subsequent falls in temperature sets larger and larger flocks going. Though, possibly the eventual trigger is not really the cold weather but rather the reduction of food offer. Formation of migration routes might be influenced by several factors. The most determinant are social learning from elder birds and the available food and sufficient shallow wetlands on the potential migration routes respectively.
 

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