Images From the Wintering Site

With spring on our doorstep (9 days but who’s counting?) there are reports that a small number of Sandhill cranes have already returned to Wisconsin. If you follow the Rowe Sanctuary Live camera feed you no doubt, have noticed the cacophony of Sandhill bugles and trills has multiplied over the past week as they utilize this important staging area on their journey north. Currently the best viewing times are very early morning (Central time) and early evening, as the cranes arrive to roost in the safety of the water.

With the change in season’s each year since 2002, comes the question “when will the young Whooping cranes leave to head north”? In just the past two days, I’ve answered that question at least a dozen times and the response is: We just don’t know. They won’t announce their intentions, or pack any luggage but one day, very likely soon, they will rise up into the sky, catch a thermal and point their beaks north and just. keep. going.

Until then Brooke sent along some photos for us to share:

Juvenile Whooping crane

Whooping crane #9-13 sports a solid green leg band on his right leg. And, as the largest of the cohort and attitude to match his size.

juvenile whooping cranes

Look closely at #9-13 to the right of the costumed handler. If you click on the image, you’ll see that #9-13 is attempting to bite Hillary’s arm.

Whooping cranes change color

I’m always amazed at how quickly over the winter the young cranes lose the last of their cinnamon colored feathers.

Share Button


  1. Margie Tomlinson March 15, 2014 11:42 am

    Trying to catch up on the news of our Whoopers, so really glad to see this posting. Have been down in California for the past 17 days checking up on our rental property, so got a chance to go to the Sweetwater Channel Nature Center and checked out all the Wildlife Refuges along the way on I-5, etc. Now heading North back home to Oregon just like the birdies are all heading North back to their nesting grounds. Good luck & all best wishes to you there at OM, and thank you for all you are doing to keep our Whoopers alive and growing in numbers.

  2. Carol Berglund March 13, 2014 9:22 am

    Just put in a plug for Operation Migration on Rowe Sanctuary web cam chat after watching crane lift off before sunrise – awesome! Even better to be there though.

    • Heather Ray March 13, 2014 10:13 am

      Thank you Carol!

  3. Russell Allison March 12, 2014 5:22 pm

    We have watched the babies all the way to Florida. God speed on your return North young Whoopers. Can hardly wait to start the new groups training.

  4. canadianhoot March 12, 2014 4:36 pm

    They are so beautiful. I hope they come back to the pen area so we can see them, ( even if they aren`t welcomed by the new crew) Thank you for the photos.

  5. Kay March 12, 2014 10:59 am

    Are either of the two Boys of 2012 still around? If so, do you think they will join in on the migration of the 2013 kids?

    • Heather Ray March 12, 2014 11:03 am

      Both are still at the winter pen, however, we have no way of knowing what their migration plans will be.

  6. Bikebrains March 12, 2014 9:05 am

    When did they leave in previous years?

    • Heather Ray March 12, 2014 11:03 am

      It has varied over the years – anytime between mid-March to the first week of April

  7. Karen Anne March 12, 2014 7:08 am

    Seems like just yesterday they got to Florida.

    • Heather Ray March 12, 2014 8:27 am

      It sure does!