BIRDER'S JOURNAL
November 3 , 2007

SUBJECT: Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

Located near Medaryville, in north-central Indiana is the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area that is a favorite rest stop for tens of thousands of sandhill cranes as they make their way from the upper midwest and Canada down to Florida during the fall migration.

The best time to see these birds is between mid-October and late November with the peak occurring sometime around mid-November when upwards of 15,000 to 30,000 birds can be seen depending on weather conditions.

This is the second year that I have gone to see these magnificent birds in Indiana and so far, I've not been disappointed. Although these birds can be seen throughout the day from the viewing platform and surrounding areas, the best time to be there (in my opinion) is at sunrise. This provides the best light for photographing these birds with the sun at your back.

Upon arriving at the viewing area the first thing you notice (besides a bunch of cranes flying around) is the sound of thousands of cranes vocalizing. The sound can be deafening at times, especially when they all decide to take off at once!

 

The soft, warm light at sunrise gives these grayish birds a bit of color.

 

There's nothing like synchronized flying!

 

A close-up of the head, reveals a rather prehistoric look to these birds and they should—fossils from 10 million years ago reveal that cranes of today are not very different from their ancestors.

 

Whenever I see these birds come in for a landing with their legs in a standing position without a single wing beat, they remind me of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.—I'll get you my pretty!...And your little dog too!

 

They really are beautiful!

 

For more information on viewing these birds at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, please be sure to check out Indiana's DNR web site:

http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/publications/scranes.htm

—Alan Stankevitz

 

Web design © 2007, Alan Stankevitz
All photographs © 2002-2007, Alan Stankevitz

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