Whooping Crane Wednesday hikes a chance to see, learn about … – Lebanon Reporter

Partly cloudy skies. High 44F. Winds S at 15 to 25 mph. Higher wind gusts possible..
Mostly clear and windy this evening. Cloudy with diminishing winds late. Low 39F. Winds S at 20 to 30 mph. Higher wind gusts possible.
Updated: December 28, 2022 @ 6:07 am
Two whooping cranes take off over the wetlands at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County. Adult whooping cranes are white with black-tipped wings with a red patch on the top of their head.

Two whooping cranes take off over the wetlands at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County. Adult whooping cranes are white with black-tipped wings with a red patch on the top of their head.
Some Hoosiers “migrate” south to Florida for the winter, and some bird species migrate to south-central Indiana for part or all of winter. That includes sandhill cranes and their endangered cousins, whooping cranes, which can be found in and around Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County.
Katelyn Garrett, Indiana outreach assistant with the International Crane Foundation, is hosting a weekly morning hike in the 9,098-acre wildlife area to help people search the units for cranes and other birds. Titled Whooping Crane Wednesdays, the hikes begin at 8 a.m. at the Visitor Center and last for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the weather and how many birds can be seen.
Garrett said the groups usually tour one or two of the property’s units, walking up and around the levee, looking and listening for any birds they can identify. The hope is to find a group of sandhill cranes or a smaller group of whooping cranes, which are slightly larger and bright white instead of gray like a sandhill.
Goose Pond is a great stop-over area. A lot of cranes stop there and a lot decide to winter there,” Garrett said.
Besides trying to find the birds and watch them from a safe distance, Garrett also shares information about cranes, the International Crane Foundation, as well as other birds and the management history of the Goose Pond area. Other birds that have been seen on previous hikes include waterfowl ? teals, mallards, tundra swans and Canada geese — as well as northern harriers and other hawks.
This is our first time in Indiana (offering the hikes),” Garrett said. The hikes will continue on Wednesdays in December and into 2023, through Feb. 8.
The migratory flock of whooping cranes that travels through Indiana is considered “experimental” since there are not enough birds to sustain the population without human intervention. Currently, there are 76 birds in the group known as the eastern migratory flock. There are about 800 whooping cranes throughout North America, including some in captivity.
Sharing information about cranes is important, especially since several whooping cranes have been shot and killed in Greene County and other states. Garrett also teaches people to stay at least 200 yards away, about the length of two football fields, from whooping cranes to ensure they are not being disturbed. While some of the cranes will stay in Greene County, many will fly farther south and spend time at Goose Pond recovering and eating before flying.
If they are baring their head up at you, they feel threatened,” Garrett said, adding birds that feel threatened bare the red bald spot on their head and may bring their wings up. “At that point, it’s good to back off.”
Anyone who is close to birds near roads should stay in their vehicle instead of getting out, Garrett advised.
Besides possibly seeing a whooping crane, Garrett tries to show off the more numerous sandhill cranes that can number up to 7,000 on and near Goose Pond at times during the winter and early spring.
The International Crane Foundation website’s information about each of the whooping cranes in the eastern flock shows there were about 19 located in Greene County in December. Each of the birds is given a special designation. A W before the number of the bird indicates the bird was wild-hatched. The whooping cranes at Goose Pond included 10 wild-hatched birds, as well as some that were part of Operation Migration, which used ultra-light aircraft to teach young birds how to migrate to southern areas for the winter.
Tour Goose Pond on your ownPeople who can’t make the Wednesday hikes can visit Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area whenever they want. Bird-watching, hiking and hunting are popular activities on the property, which has both wooded areas and wetlands in designated units. There is a visitors center at 13540 W. County Road 400 S, just south of Linton, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The visitor center has interpretive displays and staff who can answer questions. Picnic tables, wildlife viewing scopes and a mowed half-mile trail, as well as restrooms outside the center, are accessible 24 hours a day.
Marsh Madness event offers moreThe annual Marsh Madness Festival in Linton that includes tours of Goose Pond FWA will be Feb. 25, 2023. For more information, check out the Friends of Goose Pond website at friendsofgoosepond.org.
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