Saturday, April 14th marked the annual Midwest Crane Count. We had our usual location; a privately-owned parcel of land known as Moody Marsh.
The goal is to record as many Sandhill Cranes (and hypothetically, Whooping Cranes) from 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM.
During this two hour window we listened intently to determine if there were breeding pairs of cranes. If two cranes do their unison call, they are an official pair.
We did not see a single crane but recorded nine total Sandhills, including two breeding pairs.
We have recorded more cranes in the past and we assume the warm weather prior to the count allowed the cranes to start breeding early and many may had already been on nests.
More enjoyable than hearing and counting cranes is listening to the sounds of nature. As daylight broke, the nocturnal birds made their final calls of the night and the diurnal birds woke up all around us.
We heard both Barred and Great-horned Owls as well as Wilson’s Snipe and Sora.
I always wonder what the birds think when the sun rises and they discover my dad and I sitting in chairs at the edge of their marsh.
In total we saw or heard 40 some species of birds after taking a hike at the nearby Sugar River Forest Preserve.
This count also had the warmest, most enjoyable weather of any crane count we’ve done. Usually we sit there freezing cold!