• Katie Wozniak

The Sandhill Crane Experience Coming to The Will County Forest Preserve

With the seasons changing, we see all kinds of birds migrating for the winter. This sight, on a grand scale, is something few of us see. This is unless you are one of the individuals to attend “The Sandhill Crane Experience,” a Forest Preserve District of Will County program planned for Saturday, November 18. Participants begin their experience in the Crete Township at the Plum Creek Nature Center. From here, everyone is bused to Medaryville, Indiana, where the Sandhill cranes gather before migrating south.

Sandhill cranes thrive in wetlands and grasslands, traveling in large flocks. These flocks can be as large as tens of thousands of birds all together in the sky. They are particularly tall, typically standing at five feet tall. They also have a very large wingspan. According to an article published online by the Forest Preserve District of Will County, these birds have a wingspan that can stretch as long as 6 feet and can fly 25-30 miles per hour at maximum altitudes ranging between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. And, while migrating, a sandhill crane can cover as much as 200-300 miles per day. These cranes are known for their elegant nature and often attract thousands when they migrate for bird-watching events all over the nation.

“This is a spectacle right out of a television wildlife special, except it is not in some far-off, exotic location, but right here in the Midwest,” explained Forest Preserve interpretive naturalist Bob Bryerton. This program is offered annually to those in the Midwest to have an up-close and personal view of these majestic cranes. Last year, there was an estimated 15,000 birds seen in migration during the Sandhill Crane Experience.

Registration for this event is open and space is limited. It is suggested to keep an eye on the weather and to dress appropriately. It is sometimes very windy during this program but it is said by the Will County Forest Preserve that some of the windiest days often have the most birds on site. Register today for just $15. Costs include travel costs, snacks, and experienced guides.

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