Monday, November 27, 2023

Sandhill Crane Migration at Jasper-Pulaski

We took a daytrip to Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area last week to see large numbers of Sandhill Cranes as they travel south for the winter. The reserve had been on my list of places to visit, and when it popped up in my calendar notifications we decided to visit. 
Jasper-Pulaski is located in northwest Indiana....about 4 hours from us here in west-central Ohio. We elected to arrive in time to see the cranes socialize and then move to the marshes for the night. 
The Sandhill Cranes, with wingspans of up to 7 feet, breed in the northern US and Canada. They migrate to the southern US for the winter months. As they travel, they stop for the night to rest and feed. The Indiana  DNR posts weekly counts of the cranes ....during our visit, the count was approximately 13,000. 
Purdue University's Forest and Natural Resources Extension has some interesting data on Sandhill migration....showing  Jasper-Pulaski as a "collection point" where cranes meet up to continue migration.
The preserve has a "Sandhill Crane Observation Area" in which a raised observation deck allows great views of the cranes. 
We arrived about 3pm, and made our way to the Observation Deck, where we watched many cranes that were already in the fields. As sundown approached, more and more cranes kited in. All became quite social and active...."dancing" and vocalizing. 
We watched and flock after flock came in, settling in the marshes seen in the distance. The orientation of the deck allowed for wonderful sunset views of the cranes. 
What a great time we had....well worth the drive and one that we'll likely make in the future.