All the cranes I saw that year were sandhills. The only variety I had ever seen. But the International Crane Foundation, just outside Baraboo, protects every species of cranes that exist around the world. African varieties, Asian, Eurasian, Australian, North American. (No cranes in South America.)
On a cool Saturday morning, Jon and I took a trip to visit the foundation. It was our last full day in Wisconsin before driving back to Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon. Though the foundation has been in existence since 1973, I'd never been there. I knew about it, but when I lived in Wisconsin I never felt compelled to visit. We were able to join a tour and learn a little about the different species, each of which were on display in their enclosures. I won't go into detail about the foundation, but one of their missions is to protect habitats of all crane species worldwide. That's a huge mission, especially when you look at the map and see just how much range they have, often crossing political boundaries.
|Grey Crowned Crane, so beautiful.|
|Blue Cranes posing in front of their mural.|
|Whooping Crane. In the 1940s, there were only 21 in the wild.|
|Along a path through restored prairie.|
|Outside the Education Center.|
Besides being curious about the foundation and the work they do, another reason I wanted to make a visit is that one of my characters in the book I've been working on works at a facility that researches cranes. Whether it's a wetland reserve or a scientific foundation, I'm not sure, but I wanted to see how things were set up so I could get an idea of whether it would work for the book. (You see, it's all research!) I still haven't decided how I'll integrate the ideas into the book, if at all. Either way, I'm glad we visited the foundation so we could see the cranes up close. That alone is reason enough to visit.