Best time to travel to Ohio

Sandhill Cranes in Ohio

Sandhill cranes flock to Ohio to nest and raise their colts

Best time: late February–Ocober | best September

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandy Ridge Reservation, Ohio

Ohio is lucky to have its own small population of sandhill cranes that arrive in late February to nest and breed at the marshes and wetlands of the northern part of the state. Sandhill crane is one of the oldest bird species on the planet, and even though in Ohio this bird is listed as endangered, there are more than half a million of them in North America.

Sandhill cranes mate for life. In Ohio, it's possible to observe their famous dances during courtship, as cranes pair up and get ready to arrange nests. The dance of the sandhill crane is quite unique as it includes bows, various steps, wing moves, and leaps up to several feet off the ground.

Sandhills can be watched at a few wildlife areas in Ohio, such as Sandy Ridge Reservation of Lorain County in North Ridgeville, a 526 acre (212 ha) wetland and wildlife preserve. Other spots include Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area near Wooster, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge by Lake Erie, Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area near Cleveland, Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, and Deer Creek Wildlife Area. The best time to spot them is during fall migration in September. At this time, many cranes pass Ohio on the way to Florida, Mexico, and Texas.

Practical info

When is the best time of year to see sandhill cranes in Ohio?

From late February to October, with September being the best month, sandhill cranes migrate to Ohio for nesting and breeding. This period presents the best opportunity to watch their famous dances. Many sandhill cranes pass Ohio during September's fall migration on their way to Mexico, Florida, and Texas. Show more

Where can I watch sandhill cranes in Ohio?

Several locations in Ohio offer great birdwatching opportunities for sandhill cranes. These sites include Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge by Lake Erie, Deer Creek Wildlife Area, Sandy Ridge Reservation of Lorain County in North Ridgeville, Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area near Wooster, and the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area close to Cleveland. They boast protected wetlands and marshes, providing a perfect habitat for sandhill cranes to thrive. Show more

What is the dance of the sandhill crane?

The unique dance of sandhill cranes involves a combination of bows, wing moves, various steps, and leaps, some of which may reach several feet. The dance is crucial for the bird's prenuptial display and courtship. It's a fascinating sight that involves male cranes preparing to build nests with their partners, making it one of the birds' most notable traits. Show more

When do sandhill cranes migrate, and where do they go?

In the fall and winter, sandhill cranes migrate south from northern habitats to avoid harsh winter conditions. Ohio's sandhill cranes migrate in September to Florida, Mexico, and Texas for the winter, returning to restore their nests in February and March for the next breeding cycle. Show more

What is the status of the sandhill crane population in Ohio?

Ohio's sandhill crane population is considered endangered, despite over half a million across North America. Since only a small number of migratory sandhill cranes breed in Ohio and only a limited area of wetlands exist, this classification is applicable. The conservation of sandhill crane habitats is vital for the bird's well-being, and they play a crucial role in Ohio's sandhill crane population growth and survival. Show more

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