Every Fall I look forward to joining my friends at Michigan Audubon to tally the number of Sandhill Cranes coming into roost at the Kiwanis and Baker Sanctuary properties. However, this year would be different due to the pandemic. As luck would have it, the count site has ample space to social distance so three of us settled in and prepared for a gorgeous evening of Fall birding as the sun was setting upon a mostly clear sky.
In addition to sharing sightings LIVE on Facebook, our friends over at Dunkadoo hooked us up with another digital counting project to tally all birds seen or heard as well as share the data LIVE in real time via their website. This was especially nice, given the public would not be allowed to partake in the count this year. In addition to some dandy birds, we were also treated with a gorgeous tree line filled with Tamaracks.
This year’s count was different in that the birds we coming in small groups during the entire evening. In previous years, a spattering of cranes would arrive as the sun went down until massive lines arrived seemingly all at once after sunset. This more steady stream made the counting easier and also allowed for more quality passerine birding throughout. We tallied Rusty Blackbirds, White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows and numerous flocks of Cedar Waxwings.
In the end, the star of the night didn’t disappoint. We tallied just over 3400 Sandhill Cranes and 33 additional species including two serenading Great-horned Owls made the list. We sincerely hope next year we can welcome you to join us but until then, enjoy a teaser video from this year’s count!