by Associated Press , on Jan 9, 2012 7:27 am ET
The high-protein diet is supposed to sustain North America's tallest bird through the winter and prepare it for the nesting season in Canada. But this year, the state's devastating drought has made food and water scarce, raising worries among scientists that the parched conditions could threaten the only remaining flock of cranes.
The lack of rain has made estuaries and marshlands too salty for blue crabs to thrive and destroyed a usually plentiful supply of wolf berries. In addition, a long-lasting "red tide" - a toxic algae that blooms in salty water - has made it dangerous for the birds to eat clams, which retain the algae's toxin and can pass it along the food chain.