Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Sandhill Cranes

After talking about a trip to Crex Meadows for about a year, John H. and I finally visited on 1 November. This wildlife management area is run by the State of Wisconsin. This 30,000 acre, marshy ecosystem is the largest remaining tract of the Wisconsin Pine Barrens. The area hosts a plethora of birdlife and is a breeding and staging area for Sandhill Cranes.
Crex Meadows charges no entry fee. Do not miss the 24-mile Auto Tour Route and the short boardwalk and hiking paths at the headquarters. The visitor center is near the town of Grantsburg, just east of I-35, and about halfway between Minneapolis and Duluth (about an hour from the Twin Cities). John and I saw hundreds of Sandhill Cranes.  Most foraged in nearby fields, but many concentrated in the marshlands. See my recent blog of 30 October 2011 for more crane information.


  1. Hi Dan - glad you made it here! Our official count of the cranes on Thursday, October 27 netted us just under 13,000 cranes in the area. These cranes, along with the ones at Sherburne NWA and elsewhere in Wisconsin and central/eastern MN are a part of the Greater Sandhill Crane Subspecies, which numbers about 60,000 cranes total. These ones breed from southern Wi north to central Canada, and winter along the gulf coast. They normally do not go to the Platte River at all. The cranes who visit the Platte are a part of the western flock, a.k.a. Lesser Sandhill Crane, that winters along the Texas coast and summers/breeds up in the arctic. There are hundreds of thousands of Lesser Sandhill Cranes. This is the subspecies that is hunted in North Dakota and now in northwestern Minnesota. There are at 6 subspecies of Sandhill Crane.

    Thanks for visiting us! I hope you get a chance to come back in the spring for some great warbler and duck migration birding!

    Kim Wheeler
    Natural Resource Educator
    Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

    Great Photos

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