Sandhill Cranes migrating north

Sandhill Cranes are beginning their long migration north to their breeding grounds that range from northern U.S. to Canada and Alaska.   The Audubon Rowe Sanctuary, that is a major Sandhill Crane migration stop-over site in Nebraska, has already reported that some Sandhill Cranes have arrived in their area.  Standing from 3-4 feet tall, these are imposing birds and they make the most distinctive vocalizations:   listen to this Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library recording.

Watching Sandhill Cranes during their migration is fantastic as they often engage in ‘dancing’–they leap up into the air, flapping their wings and vocalizing.   According to the Audubon Rowe Sanctuary website they “‘dance’ to relieve the stress of migration and strengthen pair bonds.”   And what a spectacle it is: hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes plus hundreds of thousands of geese and ducks all stop-over along the So Platte River to rest and fuel up for the rest of their journey.

The Audubon Rowe Sanctuary has viewing blinds along the river that can be reserved during the height of crane migration from March 2 to April 7. The viewings are led by trained guides who will provide expert information and answer your questions about the cranes and this area. These viewing blinds provide excellent opportunities for photographing the cranes and waterfowl though at least a 400 mm lens is recommended for obtaining close-up photos. These viewing blinds are very popular so it is recommended that you make your reservations as soon as possible The Audubon Rowe Sanctuary video below will give you a good idea of the amazing spectacle that is found in this location.

One of Birds and Blooms Magazine’s blog editors, Kirsten, recently posted here about an opportunity to participate in a photography workshop also in March but in the San Luis Valley of Colorado where another population of  Sandhill Cranes will stop-over during their migration north to their breeding grounds.

  1. Dale Bowen says

    On Feb. 14 we had 4 cranes stop over in our pasture for about 5 hours. We wondered where the rest of the flock was.
    It had been raining for several days, so thought maybe they had come down out of the rain. We are located in rural
    central Georgia. It was not raining while they were here. They seemed to be feeding the whole time they were here.

    • says

      Hi Dale,
      I don’t think it is unusual to have a small group (likely a family group) of Sandhill Cranes doing a migration stop-over separate from the likely larger flock with which they would be migrating. Nice your pasture was available for them.

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