Updated: Apr 5
Craniacs are on Full Alert!
The first Sandhill Crane of 2023 was observed strutting it’s stuff close to the Homer Library on March 30th.
The beautiful formations have not arrived just yet. Still, the first spotting of the season dutifully reported on the Craniac Hotline and reported on Facebook, has us keeping our ears tuned for their trumpet call and scanning the sky for flocks of our welcome visitors to return.
Sandhill Cranes are migratory birds. They make their annual journey from Sacramento, California, and delight Homer residents and visitors for the summer before they gather their flock and head back to California.
Crane Crossing and Crane Nesting signs are posted throughout Homer - they tend to visit the same place each year and we work to ensure that their stay is stress-free as they build nests, lay eggs, and raise their babies.
Sandhill Cranes can become quite tame and comfortable around people, especially in areas where they are regularly fed. This can lead to them visiting people's yards and even looking into their windows in search of food.
They can also be easily spotted on the Beluga Slough walk by Bishops Beach in downtown Homer. Gravel paths, viewing stations, and berms have been constructed to allow observation of the cranes in their natural habitat - without disturbing them.
Kachemak Crane Watch is a great source of information:
Homer’s Beluga Slough: A Special Sandhill Crane Nesting and Viewing Area
This spring, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Kachemak Crane Watch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Homer Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Homer collaborated on an educational brochure to raise awareness of the importance of staying out of the Beluga Slough estuary from April 1 to October 31. Visitors can access viewing areas along the boardwalk and gravel trails below the I & O Visitor Center, and they can stroll the paths on the high part of the inner berm to the Slough’s outlet. Bird watching is also accessible from the bike path on northeast end of the Slough adjacent to the Bypass between Beluga Lake and the Slough. Dogs are required by City Code to be on leash, especially when in these sensitive habitat areas.
The new Beluga Slough brochure is available below in two versions. Download your favorite or both.
Another great place to see Cranes is on a guided walk on Inspiration Ridge hike, owned and managed by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS). Be sure to make a reservation! These walks fill up quickly.
It's important to remember that Sandhill Cranes are wild animals and should be treated with respect and caution. Feeding them can alter their natural behavior and may cause them to become dependent on humans for food, which can be detrimental to their health and survival.
Sandhill Crane Swag is available at their online store so you can show some Craniac Love as you observe these magnificent birds!