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A group of black-necked cranes found wintering in NW China's Xinjiang for the first time

A group of black-necked cranes was spotted in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for the first time.

The birds were seen in Qiemo County's Tula pasture, which is at the border of Altun Mountains National Nature Reserve and Zhongkunlun Nature Reserve. The number of black-necked cranes wintering here is estimated to be over 200.

The Altun Mountains and Kunlun Mountains are important breeding grounds for black-necked cranes in the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and they usually leave for warmer places during winter.

"In the past, the black-necked cranes in the Altun Mountains National Nature Reserve didn't winter in Xinjiang, but flew to Tibet's Linzhou (Lhundrub) county. The Tula pasture that we found this time is a relatively large wintering ground for the birds, which is important for our studies of the bird's expanded wintering grounds," said Xu Junquan, a researcher at the Altun Mountains National Nature Reserve.

He said some sections of the river had not frozen this year due to the warm weather this winter. When herders feed fodder to the livestock, the black-necked cranes also take a share. These might be the reasons that the birds stayed for the winter.