When I walked toward the entrance of the International Crane Foundation, I could hear the calls of the cranes. I am always excited to visit locations where I know they are furthering the well-being of birds and animals.
I already knew that cranes are among the most endangered families of birds in the world, with ten of the fifteen species threatened and was eager to learn what the foundation was doing to help them.
After paying an admission fee, I first watched an excellent film about the history and focus of the foundation.
It was founded in 1973 by two ornithology students at Cornell University, Ron Sauey and George W. Archibald. They envisioned an organization combining research, captive breeding and reintroduction, landscape restoration, and education to safeguard the world's 15 crane species.
The foundation works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. Global priorities span Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America.
The foundation also provides a center for conservation leadership and training.
With this base understanding, I began my tour. Tall grasses and non-intrusive fences surround enclosures. I pass each crane with awe, knowing the work the foundation is doing and the beauty of each crane pair.
Past Black Crowned Cranes and Grey Crowned Crane with their decorative headdresses, Whooping Cranes with their delightful call, and Wattles Cranes with their feathered flaps of skin or "wattles" hanging from their chins, I walk. All 15 species are at the foundation. Each is so different from the next.
I stayed at the center for an hour, slowly walking along the enclosures, watching, and listening. The foundation also offers much longer hiking paths through its 300 acres.
The foundation is located only 10 minutes from Wisconsin Dells in Baraboo. Make sure you carve out time to visit this conservation center and learn about its critical mission the next time you visit the Dells.