View one of Indiana’s greatest wildlife spectacles at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area. Each fall, thousands of Sandhill Cranes visit the area’s shallow marshes from mid-October through mid-December. Crane numbers peak in late November or early December.
The Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area provides quality outdoor recreational opportunities while maintaining 8,179 acres of wetland, upland, and woodland game habitat. It provides an ideal stopover for migratory birds. More than 15,000 sandhill cranes stop during fall migration.
DNR staff at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area make weekly crane counts during peak fall migration (October – December). 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.
The counts are performed by four to six property staff members before sunrise. They are stationed in parked vehicles in separate areas of the property. Each person counts small groups of cranes as they leave the roost for the day fly overhead in their assigned directions, and jot down their counts on paper. Toward the end of each count, one of the property managers checks the waterfowl resting area where the cranes were roosting, lets the other staff know when most of the cranes are out for the day, and estimates the remaining number of cranes if any remain. When each staff member returns to the office with their pad of paper, the property manager tallies each set of numbers for the final weekly count.
This counting process works well because the cranes gather in wetlands near the center of the property each night. The staff members are separated by enough distance in each direction on the property to avoid duplication of counts.