Grid Roads Offer Whooping Crane Sightings

By Val Mann – Guest Author

3-Day Drive-About

This is the time of the fall migration, both Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, as well as the Snow and other geese. Earlier this week, Maz, Kim and I went on a three day “drive-about” on grid roads through central Saskatchewan. Maz has become a great car traveller. Our vehicle’s back seat folds down flat so a large Vari-kennel fits quite nicely. Maz curls up on her cushions/blankets and snoozes. Snackies and on-lead “rest stops” are part of her journey.

Treated to Whooping Cranes

We were really hoping to see Whooping Cranes once again before moving back to the Maritimes. We did not, however, expect the treat we received! On the morning of the second day, we arrived in an area that we had hoped to see the cranes. Driving down a grid road, Kim thought she saw “little white dots” in the far corner of a recently harvested field, about two kilometers southwest of the road. We stopped (about 1.7 kilometres from the field) and looked through binoculars to check the white dots. Yes, Whooping Cranes, and nine (three family groups) had just taken flight. Kim said, “I think they are going to fly towards us – maybe even over the car”. As they gained altitude, the cranes flew towards our very dusty, field coloured gold vehicle and were getting closer with every wing flap! They came straight toward us then flew about 10 metres over the car(!), and continued to a small slough where they landed.

We were very lucky to have the cranes actually fly over us. Such an amazing experience! We think because our vehicle is basically the same colour as the fields/grid roads, it acts as a blind.

A Rewarding Drive-About

We saw at least 17 whooping cranes that morning – 11 adults and 6 colts. All were in family groups – five families of two adults with a colt, and one lone parent with its colt. It is very unusual for us to see such a high percentage of colts to adults in our sightings, especially in larger groups of cranes. We did see 10 more cranes, but could not be certain that these were different cranes, or just repositioned cranes that we had already seen. All were very far from the grid roads with the exception of when the cranes flew over head. It was a great day!


Friends of the Wild Whoopers is very thankful that Val shared their adventure with us. We hope that you enjoyed it and the photos below of the wild whooping cranes and Maz that she sent along to go with her story.

Thank you Val!

Whooping cranes
Nine Whooping cranes (three family groups) taking flight from a recently harvested field
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One of the family group approaching our car
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One of the adults from that family group flying over the car
Whooping crane
The family unit overhead
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Two family units landing in a small slough – not certain where the third family landed
Whooping Cranes
Maz and Kim on a “rest stop” on a field dirt access road (less structured than a grid road) off the grid road.