DNR To Conduct Aerial Sandhill Crane Survey

The Department of Natural Resources said today that it will conduct an aerial survey of sandhill cranes this month in the northwest and east-central Minnesota.

Map of sandhill crane range in Minnesota. (Minnesota DNR)

Pending appropriate conditions, the survey is planned for this week in the northwest Minnesota survey area and the week of May 12 for the east-central survey area.

The northwest survey will occur in an area from Crookston, north through Thief River Falls to the Canadian border, the DNR said in a news release. The east-central survey will occur in an area from Little Falls, east through Mora to the Wisconsin border.

The survey will count both nesting pairs and nonbreeding cranes to better monitor breeding populations. It’s timed to count the cranes while most are incubating eggs in their nests.

Because the cranes can be difficult to see, researchers will use the DNR aviation program helicopter, which allows them to fly at a low level. Flights, which will consist of 4-kilometer-square plots (about 1½ square miles), should be completed within a week or two in each of the survey areas.

Minnesota’s breeding cranes includes birds from two populations, the midcontinent population in the northwest part of the state, and the eastern population in much of the rest of the state. This year’s survey is being expanded to include monitoring of breeding eastern population cranes.

For more information on sandhill cranes, click here.