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Tag Archive | "Sandhill Cranes"

Be on the lookout for sandhill cranes, elk and more

Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service 
The sandhill crane stops in lower Michigan
before heading to the southern states. 

Chilly October mornings are a great opportunity for wildlife viewing in Michigan. Walking through the dew-covered grasses toward a marsh edge, you might come across the prehistoric-looking sandhill crane. Or perhaps, just before dusk in the Pigeon River Country State Forest, you’ll hear the bellowing bugle of a bull elk.

Throughout the season, sandhill cranes migrate farther south for the winter but take respite in Michigan’s lower counties before the next leg of their journey to southern states. Standing 5 feet tall with 6-foot wingspans and unmistakable bright red heads, they are a stunning sight. Sandhill cranes can be found feeding on seeds and grains in agricultural fields or browsing on wetland plants, insects and amphibians in marshlands throughout Jackson and Washtenaw counties. For more on these birds and where to view them, visit this Michigan Audubon webpage at https://tinyurl.com/y5vw7jfr.

A wild elk herd resides in the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord, and they become more active as mating season nears. 
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In the depths of the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord resides Michigan’s wild elk herd. As the breeding season approaches, elk are more active and can be seen in forest openings, the males bugling for attention from females and working to establish dominance over other suitors. There are 13 elk viewing areas throughout the Pigeon, providing optimal opportunities to watch the herd. To find viewing areas and plan your trip, check out the elk viewing guide at https://tinyurl.com/y2yg9dvx.

Fall is breeding and migration season for many wildlife species, so animals are on the move. Make the most of it by visiting Michigan.gov/Wildlife for information on trails, times and areas to improve your chances for a successful viewing experience.

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Sandhill Cranes in your Community

Photo by Beth Olson

Photo by Beth Olson

Photo by Brian Stalter

Photo by Brian Stalter

Breeding season for Sandhill Cranes is well underway in Michigan and chances are you have observed these birds in your community. Standing almost four feet tall cranes are easy to notice and entertaining to observe, but Michigan Audubon wants to remind Michiganders to maintain a safe viewing distance and let wildlife be wild. Here are few tips to help you live comfortably together with the Sandhill Cranes in your community.

Give cranes ample space. Sandhill Cranes are large and require a big area in order to take flight. Many people have seen cranes walking across roads, through neighborhoods, and on golf courses. If you encounter cranes while driving a vehicle, garden tractor, or golf cart, make sure to give the birds a wide berth. Sandhill Cranes may not always take flight, especially if they are escorting juvenile cranes called “colts.” Please slow down and let the cranes get to a safe place.

Do not intentionally feed cranes. Michigan Audubon receives reports of Sandhill Cranes taking advantage of backyard bird feeding stations and even cases where cranes are pecking at patio windows. If cranes become regular visitors at a home feeding station, we encourage property owners to take down feeders for a few days and allow the cranes to find natural food on their own. Bringing cranes to your feeding station can put the birds in contact with more potential predators such as domestic dogs, raccoons, foxes and other urban wildlife.

Learn more about cranes. Sandhill Cranes have made a tremendous comeback in Michigan, thanks to a variety of conservation measures. Cranes are regularly observed during spring migration at places like Whitefish Point and Brockway Mountain in the Upper Peninsula. Breeding cranes and adults with young are widely observed throughout Michigan, and because of their size do not even require binoculars to be fully appreciated. This fall Michigan Audubon encourages Michiganders to visit one of the numerous sites in the southern Lower Peninsula where cranes will be staging for migration. The 20th Annual Sandhill Crane & Art Festival, also known simply as “CraneFest,” will take place October 11 and 12 in Calhoun County and includes crane-viewing, special presentations, 25 Michigan artists, and activities for kids. Visit www.cranefest.org for more information.

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