Ohio Crane Count

The Sandhill Crane as listed as threatened in Ohio.  Sandhills can be quite secretive during their nesting season, and to better track Ohio’s breeding crane population, Ohio is expanding the Midwest Crane Count, a volunteer count, coordinated by the International Crane Foundation. The survey takes place for two hours on a designated Saturday morning in April. In 2021, Ohio conducted a pilot season in the counties of Geauga, Summit, Trumbull, Holmes, Wayne, and Wyandot counties. The effort documented 160 Sandhill Cranes in those 5 counties. The count expanded into the additional counties starting in 2022 (see list below).

The survey date this year will be Saturday, April 13, 2024 from 6:30-8:30 am (i.e., 15 minutes before sunrise).

Read an article on the crane count in Wild Ohio magazine, by Laura Kearns.
Ohio Division of Wildlife. To subscribe, go to wildohio.gov

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact a county coordinator, Tom Leiden, or Matthew Shumar (obcicoordinator@gmail.com). Time commitment is limited to your Saturday morning, the time it takes to scout your area, and a couple hours of virtual training. Birders of all abilities who can identify a sandhill crane can participate.  A vehicle is also required. Participation in pairs is preferred. 

Please see a list of Ohio county coordinators below.

For more information on sandhill crane identification and natural history, see:

https://savingcranes.org/species-field-guide/sandhill-crane/

https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/animals/birds/sandhill-crane

Video Tutorials

Additional Resources

eBird mobile checklist sharing tutorial – Geauga County Coordinator Matt Valencic put together this short illustrated tutorial explaining how to share each checklist with the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative – part of our data submission process.

eBird Essentials Course – Get up to speed on how the largest biological citizen-science program in the world can help you with your birding. The eBird community gathers more than 100 million bird sightings each year from people like you. Providing a powerful tool for motivated bird enthusiasts everywhere, eBird helps you find more birds and keep track of your sightings. Collectively, these sightings are now empowering a global scientific community and helping answer pressing conservation questions. Full of video tutorials, this free course will get you ready to confidently store and share your sightings with eBird.

eBird Breeding and Behavior Codes – For observations of Sandhill Cranes, we are requesting that volunteers use eBird’s Breeding and Behavior Codes whenever possible. This set of codes provides a standardized set of information about the species’ breeding behavior and give lend more support for the species nesting in that location. A complete list of codes and their definitions is available at the link above.

Annual Results

2024

Volunteer observers reported 412 sandhill cranes during the fourth annual Midwest Crane Count on Saturday, April 13, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The count was coordinated by the Division of Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.

During last year’s count, volunteers observed 357 cranes. The 2024 results show a 15% increase in sightings from 2023, likely because of a growing breeding population of sandhill cranes as well as greater survey effort. Volunteers surveyed 32 counties this year and found cranes in 26 of those. The five counties with the most sandhill cranes reported during the 2024 count were Wayne (106), Lucas (56), Geauga (48), Holmes (28), and Richland (27).

Read the entire press release from the ODNR-Division of Wildlife’s website: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-ODNR/news/ohios-spring-2024-sandhill-crane-count-results

2023

Observers reported 357 sandhill cranes in Ohio during the volunteer-driven 2023 Midwest Crane Count on Saturday, April 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The count was coordinated by the Division of Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.

The survey was conducted in 30 pre-selected counties during the crane’s nesting season to monitor Ohio’s growing breeding population of sandhill cranes. Cranes were observed in 24 of those counties. Counties were selected based on the availability of wetland habitat that cranes use for nesting.

The six counties with the most crane sightings during this year’s count were Wayne (96), Lucas (77), Geauga (63), Ottawa (18), Logan (15), and Williams (15). Killbuck Marsh and Funk Bottoms wildlife areas in Wayne County are preferred nesting locations for sandhills. Volunteers searched crane habitat within a 10-square mile survey block. Results were reported via eBird.

This year’s count was the third annual event tracking the status of sandhill cranes in the Buckeye State. During the survey’s inaugural year in 2021, Ohio volunteers observed 160 sandhill cranes across five counties. An expanded count last year recorded more than 300 sandhills in 26 counties.

A list of sandhill cranes found in each of the 30 counties surveyed during Ohio’s 2023 count is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the number of cranes reported in 2023, and the county’s result from 2022 is shown in parentheses. Counties without parentheses were not previously surveyed. The numbers below are preliminary.

Ashland 1 (7); Columbiana 1 (1); Delaware 4 (5); Erie 0 (1); Fairfield 1; Franklin 10 (2); Fulton 6; Geauga 63 (45); Hardin 2 (4); Holmes 7 (15); Knox 11 (2); Lake 0 (2); Licking 2 (2); Logan 15 (9); Lorain 0 (1); Lucas 77 (47); Mahoning 0 (1); Marion 5 (11); Medina 1; Morrow 2; Ottawa 18 (17); Pickaway 4 (1); Portage 6 (3); Richland 0 (4); Summit 4 (2); Trumbull 3 (22); Tuscarawas 0 (2); Wayne 96 (83); Williams 15 (5); and Wyandot 3 (17).

2022

Observers found 371 sandhill cranes in Ohio as part of the one-day April 2022 Midwest Crane Count, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The count was coordinated by the Division of Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.

The survey was conducted in 24 preselected counties during the crane’s nesting season. Counties were selected based on the availability of wetland habitat that cranes use for nesting. The top seven counties with the most sightings were Wayne (84), Lucas (60), Geauga (56), Trumbull (47), Holmes (18), Ottawa (17), and Wyandot (17). Volunteers searched crane habitat within a 10-square mile survey block. Results were reported via eBird.

The count was the second of what will be an annual event to track the status of sandhill cranes in the Buckeye State. The count in 2021 found 160 sandhill cranes across five counties. Sandhills can be secretive during the breeding season, and the survey is an effort to better understand Ohio’s breeding population.

Read the entire press release from the ODNR-Division of Wildlife’s website: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-ODNR/news/Sandhill-Crane-Survey-Results

2021

A pilot study was launched in 2021. The count took place on April 17, 2021 and volunteers found 160 sandhill cranes across five counties.

County Coordinators

*additional details coming soon*

CountyCoordinator (click name to email the coordinator)Additional Information
AshlandChristina Stump
AshtabulaMarc Hanneman
ColumbianaChuck McClaugherty
DelawareRich Bradley
ErieKatie Burnsworth
FranklinJen Moore
FultonTBD, contact Matthew Shumar at OBCI
GeaugaDan Best, Matt Valencic
HardinNancy Risner
HolmesRandy Carmel
KnoxCory Gratz
LakeMegan Hart
LickingChance Patznick
LoganTBD, contact Matthew Shumar at OBCI
LorainKatie Burnsworth
LucasJay Wright
MahoningJason Short
MarionJames Anderson
MedinaNatalie Dubiel
MorrowKim Picard
OttawaMark Shieldcastle
PickawayArista Hartzler, Meghan Ellis
PortageRebecca Rodhe, Holly Stoneberg
RichlandGary Cowell
SanduskyDave Wilkins
StarkJohn Weedon, Sarah Clutter
SummitDwight Chasar
TuscarawasDan Kramer
TrumbullCarole Babyak
WayneDavid McConnell
WilliamsTBD, contact Laura Kearns
WyandotTBD, contact Laura Kearns

Survey block maps

Maps for each survey block are available below, organized by county. Click a county name to expand the page for a preview of the blocks within the county and a list of the target blocks within each county. The survey block system is the same as that used for the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio, and represents 1/6th of a U.S. Geological Survey 7.5-minute topographic map. Complete details on the Atlas block and survey design are available in the final book. If you would like to explore all Atlas blocks, you can download THIS KML FILE for use in Google Earth.

Ashland County

Interactive map:

Download the Ashland County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Ashtabula County

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Download the Ashland County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Columbiana County

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Download the Columbiana County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Delaware County

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Download the Delaware County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Erie County

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Download the Erie County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Franklin County

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Download the Franklin County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Fulton County

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Geauga County

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Download the Geauga County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Hardin County

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Holmes County

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Knox County

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Lake County

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Licking County

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Logan County

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Lorain County

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Lucas County

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Download the Lucas County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Mahoning County

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Marion County

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Medina County

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Morrow County

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Ottawa County

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Pickaway County

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Portage County

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Download the Richlanda County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Richland County

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Sandusky County

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Stark County

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Summit County

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Trumbull County

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Tuscarawas County

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Download the Wayne County KML HERE to use on Google Earth or the mobile app of your choice

Wayne County

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Williams County

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Wyandot County

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