First-ever sandhill crane chick in Burnaby now feared dead

Birdwatchers are all a flutter over a rare tiny chick spotted at Burnaby Lake recently, although there are new concerns the baby bird may be dead.

Two sandhill cranes have been seen at Burnaby Lake with a chick, marking the first known birth of the species in Burnaby.

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“It’s quite a big deal,” said George Clulow, organizer of the annual Christmas Bird Count. “It’s the first-ever record of breeding sandhill cranes in Burnaby.”

By Monday, however, Clulow suspected the chick may be missing or dead. In an online forum for birdwatchers, there were unconfirmed reports of the chick’s ailing health - that it wasn’t accepting food and was having trouble lifting its head - and the parents were last spotted flying around the lake vocalizing, apparently crying out in search of their chick.

Sandhill cranes are a long-legged species, with a crimson cap and curved rump feathers. They are not endangered in B.C., but they are rarely spotted in Burnaby, and a birth is even more unusual, as they typically breed in the Interior. Clulow suspects the Burnaby Lake chick is a reflection of a vulnerable population on the upswing. 

To read more about the cranes on Clulow's blog, click here.

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