Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Sandhill Cranes

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Bird migration, Minnesota birding sites Updated: September 3, 2011 - 7:55 PM

Sandhill Cranes are beginning to gather in flocks prior to migration south for the winter. You can find them in or near Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge west of Zimmerman (Highway 169 north of Elk River), and in the Carlos Avery Game Refuge in Anoka County. Perhaps the most certain place to find them is Crex Meadows Wildlife Area just north of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Take I-35W to Highway 70, just beyond Rush City, and follow 70 east into Wisconsin. Grantsburg is five miles east of the state line, marked by the St. Croix River. Sunup and sundown are guaranteed times to watch the birds as they leave the refuge for foraging in nearby farm fields, returning as evening arrives. You can watch them cross Highway 70 two or three miles east of Grantsburg. You'll see hundreds of birds, flock after flock. It's a spectacle. The birds roost on the refuge, in the center portion where access is forbidden. Driving refuge roads, though, often turns up a few cranes. The photo below was taken at Crex a couple of falls ago.

 

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