Here in the north the our short Summer has come to an end. Even though Fall does not officially begin until tomorrow I have been seeing the signs of Autumn for the past couple of weeks. Leaves on the trees have just begun to change color, woolly bear caterpillars are on the move and the sandhills cranes have begun to descend upon Crex Meadows.
Each Fall the sandhill cranes migrate south for the winter. Before they begin the big migration they gather in staging areas where they get ready for the long flight. Crex Meadows in Wisconsin is one of the places that the cranes use as a staging area. There are quite a few fields around Crex where the cranes can find food but the main reason that they come to Crex are the shallow wetlands that the cranes roost in over night. With their long legs the cranes will often spend the night in pools that are a couple of feet deep. This helps to protect them from land based predators who would have to cross the water to get to the cranes, alerting them to the danger. Many people come to Crex, in the Fall, to watch the cranes fly out from the wetlands to the fields near dawn or return from the fields at dusk. The cranes will usually take their leave at some time in October.