Birders were out before dawn this weekend for the annual Midwest Crane Count.
“We’ll it’s about 6 oclock in the morning. The rain is coming down lightly, but we’re out here counting cranes, or trying to. Listening for their territorial calls or their guard calls.”
Oneida County Coordinator Bob Dall explains that every spring, volunteers spread out to document sandhill crane populations, as well as rare sightings of whooping cranes.
The count takes place on the same day across five Midwest states where cranes have become a regular presence.
On this Saturday morning the ice was still thick on the north side of the Nokomis Flowage.
“This is an early count this year, a little earlier than some. The ice is still covering the lakes, but that doesn’t stop the cranes. We’ve had cranes in Oneida County for over two weeks already.”
Two hours by the frozen water yielded one pair plus one individual crane. Dall says even a tally of zero would be important to document. About three dozen volunteers in Oneida County will also add their numbers to the total.