Sandhill cranes spreading in Illinois
Sandhill cranes are making a major comeback in Illinois. So says Brad Semel, a natural heritage biologist whose research shows sandhills have recently been increasing by 30 percent per year in northeast Illinois.
Prior to 1987, sandhills had not been documented nesting in Illinois since 1887. Since the firsts nests were spotted in Lake County, sandhills have steadily moved south and along with mute swans are the only wetland birds whose numbers are on the rise over the past 35 years.
“We’ve also had confirmation in Jo Daviess County and they’re spilling down the western boundaries also,” Semel said. “We’re definitely reaping the benefits of cranes in Wisconsin and their population expanding.”
In recent years there have been reports of nesting sandhills in Lee, Adams, Vermilion and Henry county, as well as reports of cranes spending the summer in Marshall County along the Illinois River.
“Within a few years if they aren’t already nesting (on the Illinois River), I’m sure they will be,” Semel said.