Best time to travel to Indiana

Sandhill Crane Migration in Indiana

One of the most impressive bird congregations in North America

Best time: mid-September–mid-December

Sandhill Crane Migration
Sandhill Cranes at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge
See accommodations nearby

A flock of Sandhill cranes is one of the most amazing natural spectacles that you can observe in North America. Half a million of these gorgeous birds migrate annually from nesting areas in the north to wintering grounds in the south. Indiana lies on these crane's fall migration routes, as the large group of cranes circle between breeding sites in Wisconsin and Michigan and the warm marshes of Georgia and Florida. The South Shore region of north-west Indiana lies in between those two destinations.

Cranes start to arrive in Indiana in late September and usually stay through December. The South Shore of Lake Michigan becomes their stopover before the long flight. Marshes, wetlands, and grasslands are abundant in Jasper County, especially, Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, which hosts tens of thousands of cranes every fall. Visit its 300-acre Goose Pasture Viewing Area to see cranes, witness their "dances", as well as listen to their distinctive chatter and calls.

Sandhill cranes are very large and tall birds that reach 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) in height. They have a long neck and legs as well as quite broad wings. Their most recognizable feature is a red crown on the head.

Practical info

What is the best time of the year to see Sandhill cranes in Indiana?

Arriving in late September and staying until December, Sandhill cranes make a stopover at the South Shore region of northwest Indiana before their long flight. The best time to view them is from mid-September through mid-December. Show more

Where in Indiana can you see Sandhill cranes during their migration?

Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, situated in Jasper County, is an excellent site for observing the Sandhill crane migration. Tens of thousands of cranes of various species make a stopover every fall at the 300-acre Goose Pasture Viewing Area, which is located inside the wildlife area. Show more

How many Sandhill cranes migrate through Indiana each year?

Indiana falls on the route of the annual migration of half a million Sandhill cranes that move from their nesting in the north to the southern wintering grounds. Tens of thousands of these birds stop over every fall at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. As there are other bird species that move over Indiana during migration, the exact number of Sandhill cranes migrating every year through Indiana is difficult to calculate. Show more

What is the unique feature of Sandhill cranes that differentiate them from other bird species?

They are a large bird species that can reach between 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) in height with a long neck and legs, and wide wings. However, their red crown on the head is the most iconic feature and is a reliable method of identifying the species during observation. Show more

Are there any other places to visit around the South Shore region of Lake Michigan while observing Sandhill cranes?

The South Shore region of Lake Michigan provides several other fantastic places to visit while observing Sandhill cranes. Beverly Shores' Lakefront Park offers beautiful views of the lake, and the Indiana Dunes National Park offers scenic landscapes. The Valparaiso Market offers local produce, street food, events, and live music on Saturdays. South Bend provides restaurants, museums, and a botanic garden. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Sandhill Crane Migration (Map)

Last updated: