Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes, migrating back north again, perform their mating dance while stopped in nearby northwest Indiana.

Sandhill cranes have been arriving by the thousands at Indiana's Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during their annual migratory trip from northern Midwest states to the southeast coast area.

JP's online report notes that 3,848 cranes had arrived by Oct. 10 and 4,759 were there Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The cranes will keep arriving until their northwest Indiana stay-over peaks in late November or early December.

Jasper-Pulaski is 8,142 acres of wetlands, woodlands and uplands near the Kankakee River about 70 miles east of Kankakee.

The main entrance to the Goose Prairie, where most of the cranes gather at sunset, is off U.S. 421, about three miles south of State Route 10. The area has an elevated, handicapped accessible viewing stand overlooking the prairie area to the west.

At sunrise, huge flocks of crane fly out of their roosting area into the Goose Prairie to socialize a while before flying on to field in surrounding farm fields and roadside. Beginning about an hour before sunset, they start flying back into Goose Pasture, where they gab, dance and socialize before returning to the marshes to roost overnight.

Roosting marsh areas are closed to the pubic.

For weekly sandhill crane updates, visit the website www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3091.htm.

Occasionally, the much rarer whooping crane has shown up at Jasper-Pulaski.

In recent years, sandhills also have spread out in their winter stopping, sometimes pausing at wetland areas east of Bradley and Kankakee.

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