The International Crane Foundation – a legacy

When my husband heard me say, “When I am in Baraboo, Wisconsin I want to visit the International Crane Foundation,” his response was “Cool, I’d like to see historic cranes too.”

He originally thought I meant machinery, not birds – after the real destination was selected, he sadly decided to miss this event, but my friend Jane Elliott also wanted to learn about these endangered animals so we found this wonderful site located out in the country and set out on the trails to see the birds in action.

The Grey Crowned Crane really would have liked to get us, he (or she) followed us and tried to peck at the fence.  We wisely kept out digits to ourselves and enjoyed this endangered bird’s beauty and royal carriage.

Before traveling to the site I had learned that cranes are revered in many countries and I loved the Crowned-Crane folktale that was posted next to the Black Crowned Crane site.  “A great king found himself lost in the desert. Weak and close to death, the king encountered a flock of cranes. Shading him with their large, beautiful wings, the cranes saved the king.  In thanks for the cranes’ kindness, the king placed his hands on their heads and there appeared crowns of solid gold.  However, it wasn’t long before these cranes were hunted for their gold  crowns. The great king, saddened by this tragedy, magically transformed the gold crowns into shimmering tufts of golden feathers.”

The International Crane Foundation(ICF)  is located on a 120 acre- prairie and boasts 275 species of native flowers.  The fifteen different types of cranes they show come from all over the world with one of the most endangered, the Whooping Crane, being located in the east southern part of the US.

The purpose for the ICF besides protecting the cranes is to provide education about them and conduct captive breeding and reintroduction of cranes into the wild. We watched an amazing video that shared how this all got started and how the foundation is working with nations around the globe to preserve the habitat of the cranes which in the end also helps preserve nature for humans as well.

The story about how this organization got its start really is an example of how a few individuals can make a difference.  The website history for the IFC states, “…the International Crane Foundation began in 1971 at Cornell University with two students who shared a passion for cranes. Ornithology students, Ron Sauey and George Archibald, envisioned an organization that would combine research, captive breeding and reintroduction, landscape restoration, and education to safeguard the world’s 15 crane species. In 1973, with the generosity of the Sauey family (who rented their horse farm to Ron and George for $1 a year!) the International Crane Foundation was founded in Baraboo, Wisconsin.”

This was an interesting stop and I was fascinated to see the Sandhill Cranes that are plentiful in the Wisconsin country side.  I had first seen these large birds a couple of years ago on a trip to Wisconsin and could not believe anything that large could be located flying around fields.  The cranes were a sight to see.  Find out more about this neat place by logging onto their website at

Blue Crane Grey Crowned Crane Black Necked Crane whooping crane

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