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Sandhill Crane Migration

Majestic flocks of sandhill cranes can be observed in northern Jasper County and the surrounding areas from late September through December, generally peaking in mid-November. Sandhill cranes make the South Shore their stopover on their long southerly migration to Georgia and Florida. The birds' natural habitat includes marshes, wet grasslands, river basins and harvested farm fields, all of which can be found in the northern Jasper County region.

About the Sandhill Cranes

  • Stand three to four feet high
  • Long, slender necks and legs
  • Wingspans that can exceed five feet wide
  • Generally gray in color
  • Adult cranes have a distinctive red crown and pale white cheeks
  • Younger cranes have a reddish cast to their feathers

Where to view the migration

Although these birds can be frequently seen in the surrounding fields and in the air, the best place to view them en masse is Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. Tens of thousands of cranes visit the area's shallow marshes each year. The Goose Pasture Viewing Area features 300 acres of field surrounded by wetlands. Visitors can view the cranes, check out their courtship rituals and listen to their trilling calls from an elevated platform equipped with telescopes.

Best viewing times

  • At sunrise, when the huge flocks fly out of their roosting marshes to Goose Pasture, where they will socialize for a while before heading out to the local farm fields to feed
  • About an hour prior to sunset, when the flocks head back into Goose Pasture before returning to the roosting marshes

Viewing tips at Jasper-Pulaski

  • Best spot for viewing is the Goose Pasture Viewing Area’s elevated platform
  • Dress for the weather
  • Bring a pair of binoculars
  • Restrooms and a shaded picnic area are available nearby

More Birding Opportunities

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