Although the sandhill crane can be found all year long in Southwest Michigan, most of the summer nesting population overwinters to our south. Historically, northbound migrants begin to arrive during mid-to-late February in Southwest Michigan, however in the 2020s it is difficult to determine which individuals are overwintering and which are returning migrants.

Bob and Alice Bilton of Bainbridge Township had been watching a pair of sandhill cranes most of this past winter as they foraged for food in the field across the road from their house. Then on Feb. 23, the cranes decided to stroll across the road, apparently to check out the Bilton’s bird feeders. Alice Bilton was able to capture an image of the birds as they were crossing the road.

Jonathan Wuepper is an area naturalist. Report your sightings to him at

Southwest Michigan Wildlife columnist for The Herald-Palladium