Nearly seven thousand sandhill cranes were counted at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Zimmerman last Friday, the Elk River Star News says. The birds coming from Canada and northern Minnesota are making a pit stop before heading south to Indiana and eventually Florida for the winter.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the birds are a protected species in Minnesota, but it's legal to hunt them in part of northern Minnesota during the sandhill crane hunting season
Sandhill cranes are closely related to the federally protected whooping crane. Staff members at the International Crane Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin hope whooping chicks hatched at the facility will follow adult sandhill cranes to Florida.