Wednesday, November 30th, 2022 Church Directory
NEARLY 30,000 SANDHILL CRANES were spotted at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month. The cranes like to stop at the refuge as they migrate toward warmer temperatures in the south. (Photo by Kris Spaeth of the refuge.)

Refuge sees record number of Sandhill Cranes

Earlier this month, the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) saw a record number of sandhill cranes stop by on their migration journey. A total of 29,256 cranes were counted on Nov. 8 of this year, blowing the previous record for a single day’s count out of the water. 

The previous record number of cranes counted in a single day was set back on October 31, 2019, with 14,578 being counted. 

Since 2002, staff members and volunteers at the refuge have counted the cranes coming through during the fall. Starting the second week of October, they count every crane spotted flying overhead once per week. The weekly counts will continue until there is a decline in the count from one week to the next. Volunteers stand at various stations throughout the St. Francis Wetland, where the cranes like to gather, to make sure there is very little double-counting. 

Since they began counting in 2002, staff has noticed a continual increase in the number of cranes passing though, but the number has increased significantly in the past few years. Although 2020 and 2021 did not break the single-day record number of cranes, the overall number of sandhill cranes counted during that time was growing each year. 

Cody Carlstrom, wildlife biologist at the refuge, said there could be several reasons for the increase in cranes. Both state and local laws protect the birds from being hunted by humans, and the cranes have few natural predators. Carlstrom speculated that the most likely reason for the species’ success is the ability to find natural habitat up north (in or near Canada) that is able to support them. 

About Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill cranes do not produce many offspring during their lifetimes. The cranes are not sexually mature until they are about five years old, and, after that, they will typically only produce one or two offspring at a time. 

During their migration every year, the sandhill cranes make their way down to the southeast coast of the county, settling in warm, wetland areas such as Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. 

About SNWR 

The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge consists of 30,700 acres of land. It is preserved to provide a high-quality native habitat for native and migratory species.

There are many ways to support the refuge in its efforts. Volunteers are needed for population counts such as the annual sandhill crane count, along with other activities. Those interested could also donate or help to further SNWR’s educational outreach. Those interested can visit www.ExploreSherburne.org/join-us.