Sandhill cranes begin fall migration at Jasper-Pulaski

INDIANA – Sandhill cranes can be seen at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area from late September through December. Crane numbers peak in mid-November.

The best time to view is sunrise, from the Goose Pasture viewing area. Check out the video above to get a sense of what you’ll experience on your visit to Jasper-Pulaski FWA.

DNR staff at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area make weekly crane counts during peak fall migration (October – December). Oct. 4 will be the first count. The count is typically performed each Tuesday unless impeded by inclement weather. If unable to count on a Tuesday, the staff will try again on Thursday of that week. The counts generally end the last week of December.

Sandhill Cranes during fall migration

Best time to view

  • Sunrise: Gigantic flocks rise and fly from their roosting marshes to feed on surrounding private land (agricultural fields). On their way to feed some birds stop in the open grassland areas of the refuge.
  • Sunset: Beginning about one hour before sunset, flocks of cranes kite into the refuge near the observation area from all directions. They gab and socialize again before returning to roosting marshes at dusk.

While this is the cranes’ usual routine, it is important to remember they are wild animals and are not always predictable.

Best location to view

The crane spectacle is best seen from the observation platform at the Sandhill Crane Observation Area. View a property map. During the day, cranes can be spotted feeding and dancing in nearby harvested farm fields. Roosting marshes in the Waterfowl Resting Area are closed to the public so that migrating birds can rest without human disturbance.

Viewing tips

While cranes may gather close to the observation platform, they are usually several hundred yards away. A few stationary viewing scopes are available but bringing your own spotting scope or binoculars is recommended.

If you are photographing cranes, your most powerful zoom lens will be handy, as trying to get too close to these birds will easily spook them.