Cranes Return to Northwoods In Time for Midwest Crane Count

Mar 31, 2015

As the days get longer many migratory birds are returning to the Northwoods.

Geese and robins have been reported, and birder Bob Dall says sandhill cranes have been back for a few weeks now. 

“They don’t need open water, they are more likely in search of open fields or areas where they can find food.  Some of them come back when there’s still snow and ice.” 

The annual spring Midwest Crane Count happens in a few weeks, on April 18th. 

Dall coordinates the count for Oneida County.  He says volunteers fan out across the region to watch and listen for cranes. 

“The purpose of the count is to gather data for research, and to track the trends for crane populations.  It’s a snapshot in time, so to speak.”  

He says new counters are welcome, to help gather data at more sites. 

The count happens on the same Saturday morning across six Midwestern states. 

Spring conditions are looking more promising this year, while last year’s long winter meant volunteers counted fewer sandhill cranes than usual

“A big part of the count is an auditory count where we’re listening for the crane calls.  If it’s windy and miserable out there it’s kind of hard to hear them.  But I expect we’ll have a little better success this year.” 

Oneida County registered about 80 cranes last year, where the count has measured almost 200 in some years. 

Volunteers who want to help with the crane count should get in touch with their local county coordinator.