One for sure, is the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Hatched by two students at Cornell University in 1971; Ron Sauey and George Archibald developed it on land owned by the Sauey family outside Baraboo.
All these years later, the Foundation represents the world's best efforts to preserve and grow some of the planet's most elegant winged creatures.
Cranes are highly regarded in many countries for their beauty and their lives. Long-lived birds who mate for life with elaborate and creative dances; they are highly regarded yet in danger. 11 of the 15 species face extinction.
|Black Necked Crane|
My son and I made the trip to the International Crane Foundation this weekend.
Just an hour north of Madison, it's filled out nicely since it's early beginnings on the former horse farm.
The visit started on the right foot when the person welcoming us pointed out I could get a membership and free future admission for a year for myself and 3 guests for not much more than the cost of 2 adult one day tickets. Sold!
The Wattled Crane (above right) was the first bird to greet us in the Spirit of Africa exhibit. It regally posed for a couple of shots, but most of the time busied itself searching the water for food and dealing with a pesky Red-Winged Blackbird (black blur in photo).
Cranes range from 3 feet to 6 feet tall with wing-spans eclipsing 7 feet.
It's an incredible feeling to be just a few feet from these majestic birds. One of the species housed here, the Sandhill Crane enjoys a fairly good size population in the upper midwest. I love watching them fly with little apparent effort as their large wings move them quickly and gracefully through the sky.
It's where the real work is done here. The "crane-dominiums" house birds counted on to continue the species while scientists and researchers, in concert with dozens of others around the world do the day to day work to rebuild their flocks.
It's still a long migration flight from its destination, but a most worthwhile effort - one which will benefit all of us.