County Coordinator Resources

Welcome – this section is designed specifically for your needs as a County Coordinator. Following are a variety of resources and handouts, including printable materials should you need an extra copy or two. Explore!

Remember, if you have further questions you may contact the International Crane Foundation’s Crane Count Coordinator at 608-356-9462.

Whooping Crane and Sandhill Crane in flight.
In addition to Sandhill Cranes, count participants in central Wisconsin may see a Whooping Crane!

Handouts and Compilation Materials

The documents below are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

County Coordinator Checklist (READ FIRST for a handy step-by-step checklist for coordinating the count)

Crane Count Media Alert

Data Sheet

Crane Count Poster

Digital Maps: You may download the historic Wisconsin county maps (8.5 x 11 in). Click here to download a .zip file of the county maps. If your county sites have changed since these maps were created, please use the below Crane Count Site Finder.

Use our Crane Count Site Finder to view established crane count sites in all states. If any of your county sites are missing from this map, please contact our data manager so that we may add your site(s).

Data Entry: Click here to view our data entry form.

Other Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Count Day

When should I arrive at my survey site?

Please arrive at your survey site before sunrise on the day of the count so that you are in place before the cranes begin leaving roost. If you are unfamiliar with the area, you should visit your site before the morning of the count to identify a safe parking location and to check with landowners if your count area is on private property. We recommend that counters survey only one site for the two-hour time frame, but some counters choose to count adjacent sites. Please use your best judgment when counting multiple sites to ensure that you are not re-counting birds as they move from site to site.

If the weather is poor on count day, can or should I count on a different day?

In order to be consistent and avoid as much double-counting of cranes as possible, all participants should do their survey on the single designated day and time in April. If poor weather affects the survey results, the long-term trends of the survey will not be affected, as these are compiled from several years’ worth of data.

Should I be concerned about turkey hunting taking place on count day?

The count often coincides with turkey hunting season. Staying on public right-of-ways and wearing visible clothing are two ways to improve safety. If your site is on private property, you should also ask the property owners if there will be hunters on their land the morning of the count. Please follow the landowner’s wishes and stay off the property if requested.

Using Data Sheet and Data Entry

Should I tally only the cranes I see or the ones I hear too?

Often, cranes are more easily heard than seen, so try to tally both cranes seen and heard. It is a good idea to bring along a notebook to help you keep track of everything you see and hear during the survey. Write down the direction from which you hear the crane(s), so that you do not record the same crane(s) multiple times if they are heard again later. If many cranes are calling together, it is difficult to estimate the exact number, but record your best estimate. Note that the data sheet includes an option to record “C Probable Courtship, Display or Copulation” – check this behavior if you hear any unison calls.

Does the International Crane Foundation still want our data sheets? If not, do coordinators need to keep them?

No, the International Crane Foundation does not need your data sheets, because we will be able to access the data through the form on our website – thanks to all of your volunteer effort! Coordinators are welcome to keep the data sheets, but it is not necessary once your data is entered.

If I create a new crane count site, does the International Crane Foundation need to be informed?

If a counter wishes to create a new site, they may do so in agreement with their county coordinator. Please contact our data manager for assistance with adding any new sites to our Crane Count Site Finder.

If we do not see cranes during the count, do we still enter 0 on our data sheet and enter these data into the online form?

Yes, you may still enter zero on your data sheet if you do not see or hear any cranes. We also ask that you still enter these data into the form on our website, as this allows us to more accurately track the number of sites surveyed in each county.

Crane Biology and Behavior

How do I identify female vs. male cranes?

Just by looking at cranes, there is no definitive way to tell the gender, as females and males look alike. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, but that is not a consistent guideline. When cranes are paired, they share incubation and parenting duties. They also make a unison call, in which each bird has a part. For every one note of the male, the female makes two notes. The female tends to keep her head in a horizontal position, while the male’s takes on a vertical posture. Note that we do not ask you to record the gender of the cranes that you observe during Crane Count.

Will a pair unison call in flight?

Not usually. Cranes make “flight calls” that allow the birds to locate their mates while flying. Because a flight call is often answered by the other member of the pair and because the calls are often repeated, they could be mistaken for unison calls. However, these calls are more likely guard calls.

How can I tell a crane’s age?

In the field, there is no definitive way to age a crane more specifically than juvenile vs. adult. From hatching until winter, juveniles are readily identifiable by the absence of the red patch on the head. Juveniles do not begin to develop visible red patches until they are nearly a year old. Wild cranes may live to be 20-30 years of age. Even in captivity, it is nearly impossible to age cranes without detailed records.