Natural Land Institute welcomes back Sandhill cranes Sept. 25

The Natural Land Institute will host an open house at the Nygren Wetland Preserve on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open house will celebrate the return of Sandhill cranes to the preserve and the hatch of a chick, the first in the restored wetlands. The event is free and open to the public.

Sue Merchant, public relations director for the Natural Land Institute, said: “Sandhill cranes were once abundant on the large marshes in northern and central Illinois, but had become very rare by the late 1800s due primarily to destruction of wetlands. They are still considered a rare breeding species in Illinois, but are making a comeback in areas like the Nygren Wetland Preserve and the Pecatonica Wetlands where the land is being restored and protected.” Merchant said that an average of eight nesting pairs of Sandhill cranes have been documented in Winnebago County during each of the past three years by monitors for the International Crane Foundation.

Displays in the “Welcome Back Sandhill Cranes” tent at the open house will feature information about Sandhill cranes, Whopping cranes and other species from around the world. You are invited to see the “Crane Trunk” loaned by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership with treasures such as replicas of crane eggs and feathers and foods eaten by cranes.

Bring the family and enjoy rides on a wagon pulled by a tractor at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to critical restoration areas at the preserve. See where Raccoon Creek is being returned to its original, meandering channel and is being revived as a living stream for fish, mussels and waterfowl. Watch—and help—our volunteers clean seeds gathered from the native plant nursery that will be used to restore the land.

The Nygren Wetland Preserve is located one mile west of Rockton at 3190 West Rockton Rd. The preserve protects water quality, soils, native plants and animals. Established in 1958, the Natural Land Institute is a private, member-supported, conservation organization that preserves natural land in northern Illinois. Call 815/964-6666 for directions and information.

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