Chesterton Tribune



Sandhill Cranes gather in Great Marsh Indiana Dunes National Park

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By Joy Marburger

Labor Day is ordinarily a day for picnics and family gatherings, and the Sandhill Cranes decided to gather in the Great Marsh wetland on the corner of Beverly Drive and Broadway, in Beverly Shores, during the late afternoon of September 7, Labor Day.

The birds started flying into the marsh around 6:30 p.m., arriving in waves. The total number visible from the boardwalk outlook was about 80 birds.

The recent drought has resulted in lower water levels in the marsh.

This is a natural occurrence in wetlands, which experience cycles of wetness, with standing water, and mudflat conductions as they dry out.

Sandhill cranes are omnivorous feeders and the recent drawdown of water exposed invertebrates that are a major protein source for the birds.

There were a number of juvenile birds in the flocks, which lack the red patch on their foreheads.

Usually a gray color, the feathers often get stained with soluble iron from their preening after feeding in the muddy substrate, making some of their feathers a reddish color (National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America).

The birds will be migrating south soon, gathering temporarily at Jasper Pulaski National Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County.

Watch for these elegant birds in various wetlands in NW Indiana!



Posted 9/9/2020




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