Sandhill Cranes

Last week I happened upon an article The Atlantic published highlighting images of the Indiana.  This was part of a series doing the same for all 50 states.  Link is here and it is a pretty good read.

The article featured hallmarks of Indy like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, State Fair, and landmarks like the College Park Pyramids and the Central Canal.

They also had some nice photos of some of our favorite places like Brown County State Park (great picture of fall foliage), Eagle Creek and a nice shot of Sand Hill Cranes flying over the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, which is a prime spot for observing the cranes during the fall migration.

We visited the Jasper-Pulaski this past November during the fall migration.  There is a nice observation deck where you will find numerous photographers and birders looking at them.  The cranes gather here in the fall for several weeks before moving on to winter in Florida, and at their peak, numbers can easily surpass 10,000 individuals.  Per the DNR, Jasper-Pulaski is the largest migration spot east of the Mississippi.

They pass through again in the spring, but that migration is shorter, and they do not stay as long.  The fall is definitely the best time to see them here.

This is one of our pictures that is not nearly as good as the photography shown in The Atlantic!

Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Nov 2019
Sandhill Cranes

That time of year you can also see and hear them flying south over the Indy suburbs.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great info page about them and there is a recording of their vocalization (single bird).

Here is a YouTube video filmed during a fall migration at Pulaski – that is what they sound like in large numbers.

If they look and sound prehistoric, it’s because they are!  The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil dug up in Florida was dated at 2.5 million years old.  Hard to believe and probably part of the reason why they capture so much attention.  Maybe we will get lucky in a few weeks and head up to Pulaski again to catch them flying north.

If you are curious where and when to find them in the area, the International Crane Foundation has a Crane finding tool on their website that lets you find the distribution of cranes by month all over North America (you can zoom in to city level) and allows you search for cranes near you using an address or zip code.

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