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Subject:Sherburne Crane Count - WOW
From:Betsy Beneke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Betsy Beneke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:38:59 -0800

Refuge staff counted over 7,000 sandhill cranes at Sherburne this morning.  I was in the "sweet spot" because 3500 of those birds flew right over my car.  It was the most amazing bird experience I've had since arriving at Sherburne.  If anyone had been sitting in the parking area designated for crane viewing, they would have had quite an experience, as that's about where most of the birds flew over.  There was a gorgeous sunrise and morning light was spectacular as well.  And me without my camera!!!!!  Birds poured out of St. Francis Pool, flying right overhead, for more than an hour.  Easily 3-4 times as many birds as we saw on either of the October tours we did.  Who knew???
We really thought birds would have headed south with the winds we've had, much colder temps, but that wasn't the case.  I wish I could have let people know ahead of time, but I had no idea there were that many birds still in the area.  If you are interested in giving the birds one last try, the next couple of mornings might still have big flights of birds.  I'm not sure - with possible storms moving in for the weekend, maybe they'll finally head out.  No promises, but maybe?  I recorded the first birds at 6:55 a.m. and the last ones at 8:10 a.m.  We have no idea where they are all going during the middle of the day to forage.  The fields along CR's 3 and 70 have a lot of birds in them, but not more than a couple thousand.  So, there's a mystery to be solved.  Where are the other 3000 to 5000 cranes feeding during the day?
Betsy Beneke
Sherburne NWR

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