Our frogs may be immobilized by the cold, but the sandhill cranes are on the move. Like many of Door County’s seasonal residents, they winter in Florida and return to our marshy areas in March.
Each year in mid-April, thousands of volunteers – including those at The Ridges – participate in the Annual Midwest Crane Count to help biologists gauge not only the number of cranes, but also the health of our wetlands. Once close to extinction, the crane count population has rebounded, benefitting from their federally protected status as well as numerous habitat restoration projects around the state.
This year’s Count was held on April 13, and by all reports the cranes are back and honing their courtship skills. Cranes mate for life and pairs return to the same nesting area each year, so we are waiting with great anticipation for the twosome that makes their home here in the Sanctuary.
We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, be on the lookout as you pass open fields. You may be lucky enough to witness these tall stately birds engaging in their courtship dance, a series of bowing, jumping and stick-tossing movements. You can also listen for their distinctive call, a sound that Aldo Leopold once referred to as “… the trumpet in the chorus of evolution.”