The Sandhill Cranes are back at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. Jim Bergens, the Property Manager, was asked how many of the big birds have migrated to the property so far this season.
“We count on Tuesdays and the last two counts have been in the six to eight thousand range,” said Jim Bergens. “The average peak is 16-20,000 and it occurs in late November, early December.”
Bergens talked about the cranes’ migratory pattern.
“The birds are coming from Wisconsin and going to Central Florida and Jasper-Pulaski is right underneath that route. We just have the right kind of habitat that they like and often times, some of the cranes may spend several weeks here which is why we build up such large numbers. Then they push on south and they winter from Kentucky and Tennessee all the way to Florida.”
Bergens described the birds.
“The Sandhill Cranes are large birds. They stand four to five feet tall and they have a wing span of about six feet. They have long legs, a long neck, elongated body and they’re often times confused with herons. The Great Blue Heron, which you often see in roadside ditches, are typically solitary but with the Sandhill Cranes, if you see one, there’s generally a lot more around somewhere.”
For viewing the Sand Hill cranes go early in the morning when they leave the roosting area, or one hour before sunset when they come in from foraging for food. There is an observation tower on the property. To get to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, take Highway 421 and travel between San Pierre and Medaryville and look for the signs.