Nguyen Phong Van, director of Phu My Species-Habitat Conservation Area in the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang Province, said since the beginning of January sarus cranes have been flocking to the area.
They stay for a few days and then return to Cambodia, about 20 km (12 miles) away. On March 14 the biggest flock so far – 54 birds – arrived, most of them adults.
“This year the cranes returned two months earlier than last year and have been coming more often since the natural conditions in the reserve are better and the food source is steady,” Van said.
He said more arrive at the end of March and beginning of April as the water drops and it’s easier for them to catch fish. Last year the largest numbers were in April, when nearly 100 arrived.
In Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap Province, four hours away, four sarus cranes flew in almost two weeks ago in search of food.
Sarus cranes, the tallest species of flying birds on earth, can grow up to 152-180 cm (60 – 70 inches) with a wingspan of 220-250 cm (87 – 98 inches), and weigh up to 8 – 10 kg. They are listed in the Vietnam Red Book and the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, and so strictly protected.
Sarus cranes forage in shallow waters and fields, frequently probing mud with their long bills. They are omnivorous, eating aquatic plants, insects, fish, frogs, and other small creatures.
The Phu My Species-Habitat Conservation Area was established in 2016. The main area is about 940 hectares while the buffer zone is over 1,700 hectares. This is the only remaining grassland ecology reserve in the west of Vietnam, and is a seasonal migratory destination for the sarus crane.
In Dong Thap, this species and other birds live in the 7,300-hectare Tram Chim National Park, which is strictly protected.
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