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What is this crane doing?
Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fresh drinking water is important for crane survival. This juvenile crane is drinking from a water guzzler in the Chass pen. The guzzler is filled using gravity. Water is pumped into elevated barrels near the blind. A hose connects the barrel to the guzzler. The pressure from water in the barrel forces water through the hose and into the guzzler for the juveniles. More below picture.


Image: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

The water in and around the pen usually has an average salinity of 17 parts per thousand, too salty to drink. (A liter of water contains about 17 grams of dissolved salts.) that's too salty for cranes to drink. Salinity at the pen site is affected by such things as rainfall and tides. Giving fresh water to the young cranes means they don't have to fly far inland to find fresh water when they are thirsty. Their body fuel is saved to get them ready for spring migration.

Not So Easy for the Wild Cousins in Texas
The cranes on the Texas wintering grounds have never known pens or guzzlers. Being wild and free means they must find their own drinking water. But Texas has very little water for the cranes because of a drought. It's a big worry. The cranes must use precious body fat flying in search of water to drink and food to eat.

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