Readers’ wildlife photos

We continue today with Karen Bartelt’s photos of cranes (see yesterday’s post); her descriptions and IDs are indented.

After visiting the International Crane Foundation, we continued our trip to see cranes in the wild.  Just east of the Crane Foundation, we saw hundreds of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) in Wisconsin farm fields.  This is a lesser-known (than whooping crane) recovery.  According to the Aldo Leopold Foundation, “When Leopold was writing ‘Marshland Elegy’ in 1937, sandhill cranes were on the brink of extinction across much of the Midwest.  In Wisconsin, the numbers were down to just 25 pairs in the entire state.”  In October, we probably saw 25 breeding pairs in one field!  I included  one close-up photo from the Crane Foundation because it shows their lovely eyes; the rest are from Baraboo and Necedah, Wisconsin.
Of course our real reason for the trip had been to see wild whooping cranes (Grus americana), so we went to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour northwest of Baraboo.  These cranes are part of the Eastern Flock (see here), not the ones that migrate from Wood Buffalo NP in Canada to Port Aransas, TX.  There are over 110 cranes in the flock, most in Wisconsin.  Wildlife managers do a variety of things to increase fledging, including stealing the first-laid egg and captive raising that chick.  The female will often lay another egg.  At Necedah, only two parent-raised “colts” were fledged in 2017.  After tramping around in cold rain for two days, we were rewarded just as darkness fell: not only did we see wild whoopers in the distance, but we saw a family with a colt.  Except for the whooping crane photo from the Crane Foundation, the photos suffer from the low-light and rainy conditions.  But they are unequivocally wild whoopers!

5 Comments

  1. Posted November 16, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Wow that’s neat! I used to live in Wisconsin but back then there were no whoopers. What a nice thing to be able to see.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos. Just a casual look at information on the Sandhill cranes can be confusing because there is a Sandhill park in Kansas but that is not the place for the large gathering of Sandhill cranes in the U.S. That would be in the Sandhills of Nebraska and specifically along the Platt river. I believe the month of March is the time to see hundreds of thousands of the cranes.

  3. Terry Sheldon
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos, but methinks they are reversed in relation to the notes; the sandhill crane photos are below the whooper notes and vice versa.

    • Karen E Bartelt
      Posted November 16, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, they were put up in an order that differed from what I sent. The sandhills are gray; the whooping cranes are white. The orange colt at the bottom is a young whooping crane.

  4. Posted November 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t know cranes were this colourful.


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