Walking with the Cranes

The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin cares for 15 species of the world’s cranes. That’s all of the worlds’ s species. They also work with other organizations worldwide to learn about cranes and care for the environment crucial to these migratory birds.

Crane sculpture

We started at the Visitor Center. The organization began here in 1973 on this 300 acres property. To assist with their programs for the cranes, there are bases in Asia and Africa.

Cudahy Visitor Center

The center and grounds are open to the public April 15 to the end of October. Tours are given daily during the summer and on weekends spring and fall. We were on our own, which was wonderful enough. Many of the cranes are in the round in pie-shaped enclosures.

crane views

Some get their own little wetland.

Cr 9-15 Golden Crowned CraneSigns describe the migratory area of each bird and some of their distinguishing traits and cultural history. You can imagine this Grey Crowned Crane, whose wetland environment in West Africa is important, would generate stories. An example given was the story of a grateful king giving the cranes a crown of gold. When they were hunted for the gold, he turned the gold to a spray of feathers.

Grey Crowned CraneWe made our way around, taking in the wide view

blue crane

and thanks to Mike’s camera, we came away with some great profiles of these Blue Cranes.

Blue Crane

Each enclosure had information about the crane – here’s the Eurasian Crane

Eurasian Crane

However, the cranes did not always oblige us with a close-up view. Some cranes kept their distance. The fencing may protect the birds, but are not camera friendly.

Eura Crane

A large area is devoted to a pair of Whooping Cranes. Their population was down to 15 in 1941-42 and is now at 300. They have been restored in one way due to captive breeding that created a non-migratory flock in Florida in 1993. For another way, Canadian and U.S organizations helped establish a new flock in 2000, that will migrate from Wisconsin to Florida. Other international programs help protect the cranes and their environment.

From this viewing spot I felt I was in the pond

whooping crane

while the pair fed and periodically checked the area.closeup whooping crane couple

Another part of the property lead to different walking areas, suggesting what to notice in what season. The sign also described the restoration of the prairie and savanna on the property.

trail sign

We chose the wetland area – but there is a prairie and woods.

which way

Crane wetland walk

Actually there are two wetlands right next to each other. In one, the water table is deeper and this leads to different vegetation. Not that I might have noticed on my own – there are explanatory signs periodically on the trail.

marsh

A few flowers bloomed in September – but I’ll bet spring is a great time to visit the prairie.

Sorry, we didn’t get pictures of the Sandhill Cranes, but my cousins report them showing up in Wisconsin each year. They also fly over California.

See you on the trail!

Words by Lynn Millar, pictures by Lynn and Mike Millar

wetland

International Crane Foundation (btw: all of the cranes who live here are not wild.)

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Walking with the Cranes

  1. Wow, I had no idea about this place! I don’t live in Wisconsin, but I have relatives who do, so next time we visit I may have to check this place out! Thanks for sharing, 🙂

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