Return of the Cranes

by Free Speech on March 3, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.


by Lyn Lorenz

Breaking Springtime News…..

The Sandhill cranes have returned to the marsh at the far east end of Lake Wisconsin!    High overhead Tuesday afternoon, cranes called forth as they began sweeping the still frozen marshland that many will call home for the next nine months.  March 3rd is a typical time for cranes to return to southern Wisconsin.  In the 30 years that this area has been monitored, the earliest return was on Valentine’s Day 2004, a year with a very mild winter.  Sandhill cranes in Wisconsin usually migrate south sometime during the month of November, flying ultimately to Florida to winter.

Upon their spring return to the state, breeding pairs will scope out and establish their territory that they occupied the previous season, usually marshland for nesting with upland and cropland for feeding, about a one to two square mile area.  Adult cranes appear light silver this time of year, and last year’s chick may accompany them back.  Once the nesting begins in earnest, usually in April, the chicks are driven off to fend for themselves, or if they are lucky, to find and join a group of juveniles that hang out together.  Adult cranes at this time appear dark brown or reddish in color.  These breeding adults preen mud from the marsh into their feathers to provide camouflage for the chicks that will hatch about mid-May.

The cranes are returning to Lake Wisconsin

The cranes are returning to Lake Wisconsin

On Saturday April 18th 2009, the annual Midwest Crane Count will again be conducted in 5 midwestern states.  The Columbia County Crane Count Coordinator is Joy Eriksen, and if you are interested in becoming involved in the count, call her at 608.635.4144.  Over 3000 observers count over 15,000 cranes, monitor marshes and the development affecting them.  The count is a great way to involve children with nature, and connect them with their environment locally.

But for now, stop, look, and listen.  The marsh has begun to awaken from its long winter’s sleep.  The sandhill’s throaty call is distinct and carries along the frozen landscape.  Another new beginning, for the cranes, for us all, for our country.  Aldo Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac, “When we hear his call, we hear no mere bird.  He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.”

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