Sandhill cranes in Ohio

(WJW) – Giant ‘dancing’ birds are appearing more and more in Ohio.

Last year, wildlife experts reported that sightings of the sandhill crane, which once completely disappeared from Ohio, were on the rise. Now, the latest volunteer count from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shows a 15% increase in sightings compared to 2023.

The ODNR said the increase is likely due to a growing breeding population of sandhill cranes as well as increased research efforts.

The reproductive activity of this species of prehistoric bird usually takes place between April and May.

ODNR explains that an integral part of their courtship is the “tendency to dance.”

A FOX 8 viewer in Amherst caught the ‘sandhill crane dance’ on video last summer. In the video, the birds measuring almost a meter tall can be seen on a lawn, one of them squawking, jumping and flapping its wings.

But is not fair During mating season it is possible to see a sandhill crane dancing. According to experts, the bird can be seen dancing at any time of the year although they do not know why.

“The sandhill crane dance includes many quick steps around each other, with wings half extended, and an occasional leap into the air up to eight feet off the ground. Part of this ceremony includes bowing toward each other,” explains ODNR on its website.

The giant bird’s wingspan typically ranges between 6 and 7 feet, according to wildlife officials.

According to the ODNR, the sandhill crane is considered an endangered species in Ohio, and in recent years, volunteers have made it their mission to help wildlife officials track its status.

In April of this year, volunteer observers reported 412 sandhill crane sightings and the majority were seen in these five counties:

  • Wayne: 106
  • Luke: 56
  • Geauga: 48
  • Holmes: 28
  • Rich lands: 27

You are more likely to see a sandhill crane in wetland areas. ODNR reports that the Killbuck Marsh and Funk Bottoms Wildlife Areas in Wayne County are excellent breeding areas for sandhills.

Learn more about the migratory bird here.