The International Crane Foundation is the only spot on the planet where you can see all 15 of the world’s crane species. Don’t pass up the opportunity.
The facility sits in a pretty slice of Wisconsin countryside and features two large natural habitat areas that house several species, including whooping cranes, America’s tallest bird and the rarest crane species. A half-mile paved trail leads you past the habitat areas, plus smaller enclosures for the other birds.
Three times a day, you can sign on for a 90-minute guided tour. An educational center is also on the premises, and contains interactive exhibits, videos and a small art gallery. There are also several miles of picturesque, interpretive nature trails behind the crane enclosures, which wind through 100 acres of restored prairie, wetlands and oak savanna.
The International Crane Foundation is open April 15 to Oct. 31. Cranes dance and call all year long, so there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to observe this behavior during your visit. If you want to better your odds, plan a visit during the spring and early summer, which is the cranes’ breeding season. Calling and dancing is more frequent then, as are crane “threat displays,” such as crouching down or ruffling feathers.
In June 2017, the Crane Foundation broke ground on a $10 million expansion. The project will include a new visitor center and an enlargement of the crane exhibits. The expansion should be completed in spring 2020.
Avoid morning visits on weekdays in April, May and June, when 8,000 school kids head here for field trips.