A large flock of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) moving south along the eastern seaboard

The last few days (11/20-29) has witnessed an amazing spectacle: a migratory flock of 24+ Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) observed in multiple states by multiple observers. This is one of the largest flocks of that species ever recorded in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. I was fortunate to have witnessed the flock as they passed through Philadelphia, PA, on November 29, after which I posted the following to the DVOC facebook page:

This morning at 10:15, a flock of ~24 SANDHILL CRANES (!!!!) flew over East Park reservoir and turned west, flying west along the Schuylkill. I was at Sedgely Woods, near the old Cliffs estate. The flock flew directly over my head in a chevron shape, calling loudly as they passed. I had some friends who were on the other side of the forest who also saw the cranes, and celebrated with me when we met back up. The birds were about 10-15m above our heads when they passed over, and then slowly gained altitude as they flew upriver.

Steve Mirick from Bradford, MA, has been compiling the various observations and has produced a map. Thanks Steve! More to come on this spectacle as (hopefully) more observations come in.

Steve Mirick’s map showing this extraordinary flock of Sandhill Cranes as it was observed moving south along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Categories: Natural History, Ornithology

1 comment

  1. Hi Matthew. I was the counter at the Lighthouse Point Park Hawkwatch in New Haven last Friday when we saw the Cranes. I am so relieved that all 24 are still accounted for. I think one was flying low below the tree line when we were counting them. I was afraid that some hunter had picked one off. It was quite a sight for New Haven, also–possibly the largest group ever seen in CT. The birding historians among us are probably working on that one as we speak. The one guy with a camera had just turned it off and by the time it rebooted the cranes were distant enough so that it would not focus and take the shot. Rats. I am going to try to see if anyone has a picture of the flock. If you hear of one, would you let me know? Thanks and good birding to you!

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