Spotting Sandhill Cranes on the way to the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon SanctuarySandhill Cranes are endangered in Ohio, but just an hour or so north of the Ohio/Michigan border and only four hours north of Cincinnati, you can find the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sandhill Crane Sanctuary, a migration staging area for Sandhill Cranes. During the summer, between five and seven pairs nest at the sanctuary, but fall migration is when Haehnle really comes to life. At the peak of migration (end of October and the beginning of November) up to 2000 Sandhill Cranes will spill into the safe shelter of the sanctuary every evening to roost for the night. While we were there (October 3), between 150-200 cranes were expected to arrive that evening.
On the way to the sanctuary, Rick spotted this family
of Sandhill Cranes as I was driving down a beautiful
country road. I immediately did a U-turn, parked on
the side of the road and grabbed my camera. I was
pretty far away, but by cropping the images, you
can see their beautiful red "polls." (Click to enlarge.)
Juveniles do not have the red caps on their heads.
The bird in the middle is the baby of this family!
You can get an idea of their size by seeing them in
front of the corn. These are Greater Sandhill Cranes,
which stand 4 feet tall and have a wingspan of 6 feet.
Seeing these birds for the first time was spectacular.
I am now a huge Sandhill Crane fan and will be
reading up on them. I can't wait until I can return
to the sanctuary. There will be more to come
on the sanctuary in a day or so...
Friday at noon, Rick, Matty and I left for Ann Arbor, Michigan. Matty was in a Big Bear Hockey Tournament, and I planned on slipping out between games to visit the local birding hotspots. A Cincy birding friend recommended I contact Allan, “The Michigan Hummingbird Guy,” and his other friend, Greg, so I did. Allen told me about The Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary and Greg recommended the Nichols Arboretum on the University of Michigan's campus. (I just love the birding friend network! Wherever you go, usually someone knows someone who can set you straight! Thanks guys...I loved birding in Michigan and can't wait to return!) I also found the Waterloo Recreation Area all by myself (which isn’t hard to do…the park is over 20,000 acres!). I will be posting on these locations over the next few days. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up too. I’ve fallen way behind. I didn’t get to do any writing or visiting other blogs while in Michigan. I did get to visit another blogging friend, however…and I’ll post on that later as well!
From the Michigan Audubon Society's pamphlet on Sandhill Cranes at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary:
"Sandhill Cranes are living dinosaurs! Sandhill Cranes hold the record as the oldest living bird species. A fossil wing bone of a Sandhill was found in the Nebraskan deposit dating back 9 million years. Fossils from other members of the Order cranes belong to, Gruiformes, date back some 60 million years at a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth."