Where to Photograph Sandhill Cranes? On Manitoulin Island!

MANITOULIN ISLAND, Ontario, Canada – An important migratory staging ground for birds. My preferred time to visit is during fall migration, anytime between mid-September to beginning of October, when you can easily observe hundreds of Sandhill Cranes. The cranes stop to feed and rest during the crossing of the Great Lakes, so they are relatively easy to find. The best places to see them are on the farmlands of the south-central part of the island, especially the areas between Spring Bay, Providence Bay, and south of Mindemoya Lake.

During fall migration the Sandhill Cranes seem less shy, especially when they gather in large groups. Still, getting too close will likely flush the entire group. The best way to photograph the cranes is to use your car as a blind. Park safely on the side of the road, turn the engine off and turn your radio off. Use your longest lens to photograph through the open window without disturbing their feeding – these ancient birds still have a long way to go before reaching their southern wintering grounds.

Manitoulin Island - Fall Migration of Sandhill Cranes

A large group of 50+ Sandhill Cranes during fall migration feeding in a farm field around Spring Bay – Manitoulin Island.

Do you know of a good photo location for Sandhill Cranes?

Share it with the world by leaving a note in the comments section below, or send us your photograph and narrative via email. If approved, we'll feature your story on the MikePhoto.com website.

 
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How To Get To Manitoulin Island


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{ 1 trackback }

Whooping Cranes reach destination | Wakulla County FL Real Estate
January 20, 2010 at 1:55 am

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Johannes January 19, 2010 at 1:46 am

Hello, I'm from Germany and plan to visit Bruce Peninsula for the wild flowers. Reading of Sandhill Cranes on Manitoulin I will most likely go there too. I researched these birds in school (I'm a biologist) and they are simply amazing. Many times in migration they fly at high altitudes and the distances these birds go without resting is just astounding. Lovely photograph, and loved the other ones too.

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redchick74 January 21, 2010 at 5:50 pm

These birds will protect their young with passion, I was reading about a pair defening their only chick against two bull moose by attacking them without fear, first the male while the female took the chick to safety and then the female attacked. it seems both bulls got spooked for a long time as they started to avoid that location…

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Sandhill cranes February 4, 2010 at 12:19 am

Bird guide Stuart Healy of Sierra Vista, Ariz., shared an up-close-and-personal view of a snow goose through his high-powered telescope. Healy said while the Bosque offers a fairly limited number of species on any given trip, "those you see, you see really well." This is due to numerous viewing stands and hiking trails along the 15-mile tour route as well as hikeable wilderness areas. Some trails are closed from September to April for roosting.Birds aren't the only creatures flourishing on the Bosque. The mule deer, coyote, porcupine, beaver, badger, raccoon, skunk and muskrat are among its residents. Pronghorn herds visit from the Jornada del Muerto, and the mountain lion and black bear leave behind taletell footprints.

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r4 ds games February 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm

HelloI always enjoy your photographs as they are really good.You have given good suggestions to photograph the cranes and this will be very helpful for me.Thank you very much for such nice post.

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Arches National Park June 18, 2010 at 2:22 am

This is due to numerous viewing stands and hiking trails along the 15-mile tour route as well as hikeable wilderness areas. Some trails are closed from September to April for roosting.Birds aren't the only creatures flourishing on the Bosque. The mule deer, coyote, porcupine, beaver, badger, raccoon, skunk and muskrat are among its residents. Pronghorn herds visit from the Jornada del Muerto, and the mountain lion and black bear leave behind taletell footprints.

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Best Ski Resorts June 29, 2010 at 1:03 am

HelloI always enjoy your photographs as they are really good.You have given good suggestions to photograph the cranes and this will be very helpful for me.Thank you very much for such nice post.

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Travel to Europe June 29, 2010 at 7:34 am

These birds will protect their young with passion, I was reading about a pair defening their only chick against two bull moose by attacking them without fear, first the male while the female took the chick to safety and then the female attacked. it seems both bulls got spooked for a long time as they started to avoid that location…

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mike harris September 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

i was on Manitoulin last week and saw a field with a flock of these cranes in it. this was in late august so i guess they are travelling a bit early this year (2012). i had no idea what kind of bird they were so i came here to find out :-) i saw them on highway 542A in South/Central MAnitoulin. mike

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Mike Lascut September 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

Hi Mike,
Thanks for your comment and for providing the location where they were spotted. Manitoulin Island is an important staging area for Sandhill Cranes. You can see a chart here of the six known migratory populations, note the Eastern one in orange:

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Mary Langevin October 15, 2012 at 7:47 am

Very cool, we just saw cranes in what looks like the exact same field on this past Thanksgiving week-end, 2012. Right on the highway into South Bay about 1 mile from the lake.

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Mike Lascut October 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hi Mary,
Thank you for your comment. I noted the same behaviour in my travels – the cranes tend to return to the same staging locations every year. This predictability actually helps us the photographers to plan for such events. All the best,
MikeL

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