Fields Of Sandhill Cranes

The Fall Gathering: Sandhill Cranes Feasting in Wisconsin’s Farm Fields

As summer fades into the cool embrace of autumn in Wisconsin, a magnificent spectacle unfolds across the rural landscapes. It’s a gathering of majestic birds, the sandhill cranes, as they flock upon farm fields to partake in a seasonal feast. These birds, known for their distinctive calls and elegant stature, play a vital role in the ecological balance of the region.


Each year, as farmers complete their harvests and clear their fields, they leave behind a bounty of leftover crops such as corn, soybeans, and grains. This abundance attracts thousands of sandhill cranes, marking the beginning of a natural phenomenon that captivates locals and visitors alike.

A Large Group Is Called A Sedge

Sandhill cranes are ofter seen in flocks or “sedge”, and the fields provide a vital source of food to fuel their long migratory journeys. They probe the ground for leftover grains and seeds, taking advantage of the agricultural abundance before they continue their southward migration.

Row By Row

The birds go row by row clearing an entire field of corn that was missed during harvest. Each bird will take its row and clear it. It is a behavior I find extremely interesting to watch.

Enjoy More Photos Of The Season

While out searching farm fields, I enjoyed searching the surrounding wetlands and swamp areas for additional migrating birds. Enjoy a few photos from my exploration.

Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

A native plant found in eastern North America, including areas like Wisconsin. The plant gets its name from the zigzag pattern along its stem.

In the fall, zigzag goldenrod produces clusters of small yellow flowers that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

After flowering it gets fluffy seed heads.

Wetlands Are Still Empty

I was searching the wetland areas for migrating wildlife. The interesting thing about the wetlands in the fall is that one day there is nothing, and the next the area is full of life.

Bull Thistle

In fall, bull thistle seed heads stand tall with their spiky, globe-shaped clusters, adding a wild and rugged beauty to fields and meadows.

The seeds provide a food source for birds, including goldfinches, sparrows, and finches. and wildlife during the cooler months.

Life Is Simple In Autumn

The birch bark compliments the fall background beautifully.

Life is simple while wandering around in the autumn.

Plants Are Spreading Seeds

Sow Thistle seeds are dispersed by wind or animals, contributing to the plant’s spread and colonization of new areas.
This showcases nature’s cycle of renewal and growth even as the season transitions towards winter.

Seed Pods of Silver Dollar

Annual Honesty is known for its attractive silvery-white, oval-shaped seed pods. They resemble silver coins or flattened discs, hence the name “silver dollar plant.”

The pods are typically papery and translucent, giving them a delicate appearance.

Goldenrod Galls

Flowers for the goldenrod have faded for the year and there were no traces of goldenrod solider beetles.

The only signs of critters in this field was from the gall fly. Gall fly produce goldenrod galls that become the food source and host plant for gall fly larvae throughout the winter.

The insect has a fairly interesting lifecycle.

As the days grow shorter and the air carries a hint of winter’s approach, the sight of sandhill cranes in Wisconsin’s farm fields becomes a fleeting yet unforgettable experience. The plants spread their seeds, showcasing nature’s cycle of renewal and growth even as winter approaches.

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