A hooded crane, normally seen only in Asia, has been spotted at Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area in Greene County, about 7,000 miles from its traditional home range.
Hooded cranes nest in southeastern Russian and northern China and winter in southern Japan.
The hooded crane spotted at Goose Pond FWA is believed to be the same hooded crane spotted at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee earlier this winter.
How the wayward bird ended up so far from home is unclear. However, some sandhill cranes, a cousin to the hooded crane, migrate from Asia to the southeastern United States. The hooded crane may have followed those sandhill cranes, and may now be returning with them on their northwestern route back to Asian nesting grounds.
“This wetland habitat is kind of rare in this part of the state,” Goose Pond FWA property manager Brad Feaster said. “So it’s a magnet for water birds of all sorts. When they are flying in the air, this place sticks out.”
It is unclear how long the bird will stay in Indiana.
Hooded cranes are about 3 feet tall. They have a red and black crown on an otherwise white head and a charcoal colored body. The International Crane Foundation estimates the world population of hooded cranes around 9,500.
The hooded crane at Goose Pond FWA does not have any bandings, tags or wing markings that would indicate it was a captive bird that had escaped.
The crane in Tennessee attracted more than 2,500 visitors from at least 35 states and five countries, including Russia.
The bird was first spotted at Goose Pond FWA by bird watchers Wednesday afternoon. As of around noon on Thursday more than 100 bird enthusiasts had already visited the property from as far away as Minnesota, West Virginia and Nebraska.
The hooded crane has been spending its time in Beehunter Marsh on the northeast side of Goose Pond FWA. A map at the Beehunter Marsh information booth will direct visitors to an area where they are most likely to see the bird.
The DNR asks that visitors to Goose Pond FWA abide by the following recommendations:
<li> Sign in at the Beehunter Marsh information booth, near the intersection of Greene County Roads 200-S and 1000-W.</li>
<li> Where possible, stay in your vehicle.</li>
<li> Don’t harass the birds; maintain a distance that will not cause them to take flight.</li>
<li> Do not block county roads or private property entrances.</li>
<li> Respect private property boundaries.</li>