Sandhill Crane

DPA/George E. Stewart

Among the very earliest avian spring returners, sandhill cranes are a majestic harbinger of warm days to come. Look for Michigan’s tallest birds (four feet) in late March and early April as they fly in a V formation like geese do (but the cranes are noticeably larger), and sound their distinctive kronk, kronk, kronk. “Cranes often feed in corn fields, but they’re usually hunting for mice, not eating corn,” says Dave Mahan, associate director of the Au Sable Institute, a field station for university students that’s based in Bellaire.

Photo(s) by DPA/George E. Stewart