By 1812Blockhouse, ODNR
Richland County’s sole sandhill cranes are bound to be lonely.
Actually, while there is every chance that those cranes are not alone, that was not what appeared to be the case when final numbers were tallied in the one-day April 2022 Midwest Crane Count, numbers for which were shared recently by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Across Ohio, there was a total of 397 sandhill cranes spotted by observers in 24 counties:
The survey was conducted in 24 preselected counties during the crane’s nesting season. Counties were selected based on the availability of wetland habitat that cranes use for nesting. Volunteers searched crane habitat within a 10-square mile survey block. Results were reported via eBird.
Reported county numbers were as follows: Ashland 11; Columbiana 1; Delaware 1; Erie 1; Franklin 3; Geauga 56; Hardin 6; Holmes 18; Knox 2; Licking 2; Logan 11; Lucas 60; Mahoning 1; Marion 11; Ottawa 17; Pickaway 1; Portage 3; Richland 2; Summit 2; Trumbull 47; Tuscarawas 2; Wayne 84; Williams 12; and Wyandot 17.
The count was the second of what will be an annual event to track the status of sandhill cranes in the Buckeye State. The count in 2021 found 160 sandhill cranes across five counties. Sandhills can be secretive during the breeding season, and the survey is an effort to better understand Ohio’s breeding population.
A current look at eBird shows a total of at least 19 sandhill crane sightings in Richland County so far this year, all of which were either in the Cooke Family Wildlife Conservation Park area or in the general vicinity of Bellville.
A sandhill crane is a tall wading bird characterized by a long neck and bill. It is mostly gray in plumage with a red patch on its forehead. It is often recognized by its rolling bugle call. Sandhills are migratory, breeding in wetlands across the northern U.S. and Canada, and wintering farther south in North America.
These regal birds were once extirpated from Ohio. They returned to Wayne County in 1987 to breed and have been slowly expanding since. They are still listed as a threatened species in Ohio.
Volunteers interested in helping with the 2023 Midwest Crane Count can mark their calendars for Saturday, April 15, 2023. Volunteers should be familiar with crane identification by sight and sound. More information is available from the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative or the International Crane Foundation.
Wildlife enthusiasts can support sandhill cranes by purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. Fourteen dollars of every $15 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp sold are invested in the state’s Wildlife Diversity Fund. This fund supports habitat restoration, wildlife and habitat research projects, creation of free wildlife educational materials, as well as efforts to restore and conserve endangered and threatened species. The Ohio Legacy Stamp can be purchased online through Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System and at any location that sells hunting and fishing licenses. Learn more about sandhill cranes and the Division of Wildlife’s research at wildohio.gov.