Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sandhill Crane Fall Migration

Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) have already started their migration south.  As these large birds leave their breeding grounds in Michigan and other northern states and provinces to spend the winter in Texas and northern Mexico, or Florida, they gather by the thousands in wetlands along the flyway to feed and rest.  This creates great opportunities to see impressive numbers of cranes in the next few weeks.

Several of these areas are near Kalamazoo.

The closest is the Baker Sanctuary northeast of Battle Creek.  Each year they host Cranefest, which will be October 12-13 this year.  Access is via the adjacent Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area, with the best viewing in the late afternoon to just before dusk as the cranes fly overhead. 
Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area/Baker Sanctuary
22300 15 Mile Rd
Bellevue, Michigan 49021
The Haehnle Sanctuary near Jackson also features thousands of cranes each Fall.  They plan a festival on October 20, as well as tours and events throughout October.
Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary
8746 Seymour Rd
Grass Lake, MI 49259
[address is approximate.]

Jasper Pulaski in Indiana is the best-known spot for Sandhill Cranes in the region.  It's about a 2.5 hour drive southwest from Kalamazoo.  Since it is farther south, the peak migration is later, typically in mid-November.
Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area
west of US Route 421 
Medaryville  IN  47959 

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