Sandhill Cranes coming in to land at Wolsey IBA. Photo courtesy of Audubon Dakota

Sandhill Cranes Flock to Audubon Dakota’s Wolsey IBA

The Wolsey Important Bird Area (IBA) in eastern South Dakota provides critical resting, refueling and staging habitat for over 150,000 Sandhill Cranes each spring including nearly 40% of all Greater Sandhill Cranes and over 23% of the global population of all six subspecies of Sandhill Cranes (Krapu et al. 2014).

These majestic birds soar into South Dakota on thermal updrafts to utilize Wolsey IBA’s 1.6 million acres of productive wetlands, marshes, uplands and croplands during spring migration. The cranes use Wolsey IBA as a staging area where they rest and forage for nearly two weeks each spring. In traditional staging areas, such as the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) in Nebraska, forage resources and suitable habitat have been decreasing due to land use changes. As an apparent result, 40% of Sandhill Cranes have moved their daytime foraging t