Sandhill Cranes Gather & Fall Color Tours
Did you know that Chelsea, Michigan is one of the best places to spot Sandhill Cranes each autumn? These large and ancient birds migrate south for the winter and pass through in large numbers at Waterloo Recreation Area and other locations nearby.
To celebrate this special annual event, local businesses have organized a great list of activities in and around Chelsea to see and learn more about the Sandhill Cranes. This list was provided to us by Pam at Mule Skinner Boots and Carolyn at Bumble’s Dry Goods, with help from dozens of other local businesses.
Here are some places on the web to learn more about these beautiful birds.
Have you seen the dressed up metal cranes around town? Next time you’re out and about, see if you can spot them — it’s especially fun for the kids!
See the extensive list below for crane related activities and events. Links to businesses mentioned can all be found at the end of this article.
Sandhill Cranes Gather & Fall Color Tour
Every Saturday & Sunday in October
Meet at 2:00 pm at the Wolverine Food and Spirits and Thompson Pizza restaurants. Self guided driving map and Fall Color Tour of Waterloo Recreation Area to Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary for Sandhill Crane viewing. You will be greeted by an Audubon Society member for a small talk on Cranes and their migration. Enjoy lunch or diner with us and tour the flight path of the decorated Sandhill Cranes in and around Chelsea. The New Chelsea Market will host wine tasting following your tour.
October 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 (Mondays)
Join the Audubon Society for the fall Bird Count at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary in Jackson
Children’s Coloring of Sandhill Cranes
October 1 thru October 20
Join our Sandhill Crane coloring program at the following restaurants: Back to the Roots, Big Boy Restaurant, Ellie’s, Main Street Coney Island, Mikes Deli, Thompson Pizza, and the Wolverine Restaurant.
October 29 through November 12
Local business will be displaying the Children’s Art Display in storefront locations throughout town: The Village Shoppe, The Middle Bead, Mule Skinner Boots Shop, Sandhill Crane Winery, Chelsea Antiques, Tree House and Aberdeen Bike & Outdoors.
Crane Viewing at Eddy Discovery Center
Sunday, October 9
Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes can be seen in the area in the fall. Visitors may pick up free maps to the best color routes and crane viewing areas. A film “The Sandhill Crane Story” will be shown on request.
Also on October 9 is the Eddy Discovery Center Mushroom Hunt with Phil Tedeschi
Saturday, October 15 10:00 am
Healthy Communities Walking Program invites you to join a “Crane Walk” which starts at the Chelsea Library and takes a walking tour in and around downtown Chelsea to view all the decorated recycled metal cranes.
You may purchase the recycled metal Sandhill Cranes at Bumble’s Dry Goods.
Sandhill Crane Viewing
Saturday, October 15
See the sandhill cranes at Haehnle Sanctuary with Michigan Audubon Society, who will have a spotting/telescope for viewing.
Cranes, Colors & Cabernet Festival
Saturday, October 15 – 11:00 am until evening
Sandhill Crane Vineyards is teaming up with the Haehnle Bird Sanctuary and other local nature groups to celebrate the Sandhill Crane! Their newest vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon will be available for tasting and purchase as a SNEAK PEEK — once the festival is over, it’ll go back into the cellar until its official release. As always, naturalists at the Haehnle Sanctuary will lead a Crane Watch starting at 4:00 pm.
Cranes of Waterloo Festival at Eddy Discovery Center
Sunday, October 23 – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
The Discovery Center is hosting this annual festival. Many activities are planned for the day ending with a driving tour to see the cranes. Admission is free with a State Recreation Passport
The Sandhill Crane Tour begins at 2pm at the Eddy Discovery Center, with local expert Bill Wells leading a driving tour through Waterloo Recreation Area to see large flocks of these magnificent birds at close range. Bring binoculars and cameras.
Art in the Afternoon: Susan Falcone
Tuesday, November 1 – 3:00 pm at Silver Maples of Chelsea
Meet wildlife artist Susan Falcone and learn about her passion and artistry. Since childhood, Falcone’s watercolors of birds, small mammals, wildflowers and insects have reflected her passion for observations and field studies of nature. Of special interest to her are the songbirds and marsh birds that frequent southeast Michigan, including her own rural property, where she provides diverse habitats for local wildlife, and where plantings of native wildflowers attract songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Susan contributes many of her works to habitat, wildlife, and charitable organizations for fundraising, and is often a guest artist at these events. Her illustrations appear in nature-oriented publications, and her original work can be found in national and international private and corporate collections.
Sandhill Cranes Gather & Fall Color Tours
November 5, 6 & 7 at 2:00 pm (or the best time is 3 hours before sunset)
Join us for a Sandhill Cranes Gather & Fall Color Tours plus a chance to see peregrines falcons and rapture. Meet at the Wolverine Food and Spirits and Thompson Pizza Restaurants. Self guided driving and Fall Color Tour of Waterloo Recreation Area to Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary for Sandhill Crane viewing. You will be greeted by an Audubon Society member for a small talk on Cranes and their migration. Enjoy lunch or diner with us and tour the flight path of the decorated Sandhill Cranes in and around Chelsea. The New Chelsea Market will host wine tasting following your tour.
A very special thanks to the groups, businesses and people who embrace our natural resources and keep trails and land available for us to use. Thank you for all your hard work.
- Waterloo Recreation Area – Eddy Discovery Center. See the Waterloo Natural History Association website for calendar of events
- Mule Skinner Boots
- Bumble’s Dry Goods
- Wolverine Food and Spirits
- Thompson’s Pizza
- Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary
- New Chelsea Market
- Back to the Roots
- Big Boy Restaurant
- Ellie’s Chelsea
- Main Street Coney Island
- Mikes’ Deli
- The Village Shoppe
- The Middle Bead
- Sandhill Crane Winery
- Chelsea Antiques
- Tree House
- Aberdeen Bike & Outdoors
- Healthy Communities Walking Program
- Chelsea Library
- Silver Maples of Chelsea
- Cherry Optometry
- Chelsea Medicine & Laser
- Chelsea Retirement Community
- Gigi’s Flowers
- Holiday Inn Express
- Just Imagine
- Merkels Furniture & Carpet One
- Mission Marketplace
- Purple Rose Theatre
- Raymond James-Deb Bauer
- Salon Rushelle
- Uptown Antiques & Littlewares
- UPS Store
- Village Hair Studio
- Wags & Whiskers
- Zou Zou’s