Even though our building is closed*, our trails are free and open to the public daily from dawn until dusk.
We invite you to come out and enjoy the Wonders of Nature…it’s good for the mind, body and soul.
We have recently updated our mask policy to help keep our visitors, students, their families and our staff safe.
“On the motionless wing, they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.”
-Aldo Leopold on the Sandhill Crane, 'A Sand County Almanac'
Sandhill cranes in Wisconsin are preparing to fly south for the winter. In the fall, when the nesting season is through, sandhill cranes stop being territorial and congregate in their pre-migration area. Usually this is the same spot year after year and sometimes they gather by the thousands. They stock up on food like waste grain from nearby farm fields and rest in the safety of communal roosting areas until December when they’ll fly to their winter habitat.
Sandhill cranes are an exciting conservation success story. Beginning in the late 1800’s they were over hunted for food and killed for being an agricultural pest. Numbers were so low across their entire territory that Aldo Leopold predicted their extinction in 'A Sand County Almanac', estimating that only a few dozen remained in Wisconsin. The protections given to cranes by the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 greatly decreased their killing, and the population slowly began to recover. It took time - sandhill cranes don’t reproduce until they are at least four years old and breeding pairs at best produce just one or two offspring a year - but the 1970’s saw a population surge, and current estimates of Wisconsin’s crane population number 15,000!
Make your own migrating sandhill crane kite with black, brown and white or gray construction paper, red and black markers, stapler, glue and twine or string.