Crane Count “Stake Out”


On Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 am, the International Crane Foundation will sponsor the Annual Midwest Crane Count. Over 2,000 volunteer participants from throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota participate in this spring survey, which gathers information once per year on the abundance and distribution of cranes in the upper Midwest.

We skipped 2018 due to a nasty spring storm, but in 2017 volunteers in Winnebago County counted 1853 sandhill cranes, MORE CRANES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTY IN WISCONSIN OR THE NATION! Let’s see if we can repeat that success and hold our title!

Best reasons to be a crane counter:

1. Doing something a little crazy is fun (especially with friends). If it’s not your thing, then you don’t have to do it next year.

2. You can do something good for the environment once a year without becoming a bird-nut.

3. If you are a student, it counts as volunteer hours. You can put it on your resume.

4. Crane Counting 101 is easy and it is all explained on the data sheet that you use on Saturday morning.

5. You’ll learn to speak crane-ese.

6. It’s a good excuse to watch a sunrise once per year. Don’t be late – the early bird gets to count more cranes.

7. Bring your binoculars, camera, and other gadgets. You’ll be surprised what other wildlife you see that early in the morning.

8. If the weather is nasty, you can count from inside the car with the heater on.

9. When finished you have a great excuse to get a hearty breakfast with your squad and then you have the whole Saturday ahead of you.

It’s not too late to volunteer. Contact the Winnebago County Coordinator, Shannon Davis-Foust, at or 920-420-7426 to secure your stake out site.

The Annual Midwest Crane Count is a citizen science tradition created by the International Crane Foundation (ICF) of Baraboo, WI, to monitor the general population trend of sandhill cranes in the Upper Midwest, as well as to promote awareness of cranes and wetland conservation throughout the count area. Winnebago Audubon invites you to help gather this valuable data to further ICF research. It’s easy, fun, and only takes two hours of your day (5:30 am-7:30 am). Enjoy the beauty of a sunrise as the birds welcome a new day in the wetland.

To learn more about the Annual Midwest Crane Count visit the International Crane Foundation website: or Winnebago Audubon Society Facebook page.

Sandhill Crane photo by Chris Binder.


About Author

Janet Wissink

Janet Wissink is currently president of Winnebago Audubon, chair of Oshkosh Bird Fest planning committee, and co-coordinator of Project SOAR (Snowy Owl Airport Rescue). She loves bird watching, prairies and exploring the natural world.

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