North Indiana didn’t always look the way it does now – in fact it wasn’t even close. There was a time, a mere 200 years ago, when it was covered by wetlands and served as an important stopover for endless flocks of migrating birds. Fortunately there are still rare pockets of preserved marsh wilderness where you can go to experience the environment the way it existed for thousands of years before human development arrived.
This weekend, the adventure club returned to Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area to witness the amazing sandhill crane migration. Just like last year’s trip, they did not disappoint. The most recent count was over 24,000. At peak viewing time, the skies were pretty impressive and the sounds were wild. Despite the rain forecast, there was barely a light mist. A total of 38 club members made it out, setting a new all-time trip attendance record!
This is a trip in which perfect timing is absolutely critical. Here is the schedule you’ll want to follow for maximum craneage.
12:00 (eastern) – meet in South Bend
12:30 – leave South Bend
2:00 – arrive at crane observation tower.
2:00 – 3:30 – hobnob with club members on the tower while waiting for others to arrive. There are birds to watch at this point, but nothing too spectacular. It’s mostly just a convenient meeting place.
3:30 – drive 1.75 miles north to the corner of 700 N and hike out to the secondary site and wait for the show to begin. See the map below for specific directions.
It’s all about the timing. If you show up just a half hour too early, there will be no cranes in sight. If you get there half an hour late, it will be too dark to see them. Mornings are probably awesome too but we haven’t tried that yet.
The crane migration is an awesome opportunity for anyone living in the area to see a very large animal migration (some people travel the world to see this kind of thing). The numbers should still be pretty high for the next month or so, so get a group together and go check it out!
For periodic updates on crane numbers, check out the Department of Natural Resources