The Hooded Crane saga continues. It has now shown up in Indiana (almost certainly the same individual; it was last seen in Tennessee on Jan 31), meaning yet another state committee will have to grapple with the issue of its provenance. [Note that Hooded Crane is not yet on the ABA Checklist.] The crane was discovered at the Beehunter Marsh unit of Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area (FWA) on Feb 8 by John Harley. It continues to be seen in the area through Feb 10, always within 1.5 miles of Unit BH5N.
The nearest town is Linton, which is about 40 miles west of Bloomington and 40 miles south of Terre Haute. To get to where the crane is most often seen from Linton, go south on State Road 59 about 1 mile, then turn left (east) on Baseline RD (some maps and signs call it just “Base Rd”). The crane has most often been seen from Baseline Rd in the vicinity of unit BH5N (about 2 miles east of State Road 59) and in the stubble fields west of Beehunter Marsh between County Roads 1100 W and 1050 W south of Baseline Rd (about 1 mile east of State Road 59). It’s also been seen immediately west of Beehunter Marsh northeast of the intersection of County Roads 1050 W and 100S. The pattern of sightings suggests its best to search BH5N from Baseline Rd early and late in the day and the stubble fields midday.
The Hooded Crane is with a group of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, with the latest estimate being 14,000. The Hooded is smaller than the Sandhills and is often threatened and chased by them, which is probably why it’s often found on the perimeter of a flock, making it a bit easier to find than if it mixed more with the Sandhills. Lee Sterrenburg reports that its preference for the edges holds true even in flight, with the Hooded flying only in loose conjunction with the flock and not actually in among the Sandhills. He also says the Hooded in flight gives him the impression of a large Plegadis ibis but with slower wing beats, and the head and neck are often held slightly down.
In a press release, the Indiana DNR, managers of Goose Pond FWA, asks that visitors abide by the following recommendations:
- Sign in at the Beehunter Marsh information booth, near the intersection of Greene County Roads 200-S and 1000-W.
- Where possible, stay in your vehicle.
- Don’t harass the birds; maintain a distance that will not cause them to take flight.
- Do not block county roads or private property entrances.
- Respect private property boundaries.
Sterrenburg recommends that birders in the field use FRS radios to share information on the whereabouts of the crane like we all did in days of yore (i.e., 2001). No specific channel was mentioned, so follow the ABA’s recommendation and use channel 11, subcode 22.
Sterrenburg has volunteered to be “Keeper of the Bird” and can be reached at sterren(at)indiana.edu. Big thanks to him not only for volunteering but also providing information for this post. Thanks also to Greg Neise for the photos.
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