Clas Hermansson, Lotta Berg, Alf Karlsson
Lake Hornborga Biological Field Station
Lake Hornborgasjön Bird Observatory
Information: Göran Lundin
Swedish Crane Working Group
Lake Hornborga is located in the southwest of Sweden between the 2 largest lakes in Europe, Vättern and Vänern and between 3 large urban cities Falköping, Skara and Skövde.
It is about 150 hectares of wetland.
This lake has been well known in Sweden since the end of the 1950s. It has been more or less drained to make arable land. The other reason for this drying up was also the arrival of the Common Cranes from April each year.
There were then large distillation factories which made liquor from potatoes. In the spring, cranes would feed on the remains of potato fields left after harvest.
Tourism around the Cranes began with a sort of "Safari Crane" during the 1950s.
At present, there are no more potato crops and the 12,000 cranes that frequent the site are fed by the Environment Agency which supplies them with around 2 tonnes of barley every day in April. . It is estimated that around 180,000 visitors come in each “Cranes” period.
During the 90s, the lake was restored: the water level was raised by about 80 cm. In addition, a lot of work has been done to eliminate vegetation (mainly Phragmites) and forests near the shore.
The Hornborga lake is a renowned ornithological site in northern Europe: it hosts many nesting birds (110 species) but also many parked water birds. It is one of the few rare sites where the 5 European species of grebes nest.
There are 2 information offices: one for the lake and one more specifically focused on Common Cranes. This one is located to the south of the lake and is open during the Cranes season and during certain winter weekends (we can then observe the Bald eagles feeding in the surroundings of the lake).
Cranes are counted in the fall and spring. Since 1996, the counts have been carried out at the end of the day when the cranes return to the lake to spend the night there. They are carried out by volunteers from the ornithological station.
Doctor PO Swanberg, who died in May 2001 at the age of 93, played an important role in the preservation of Lake Hornborga and in improving knowledge about Common Cranes.
At www.sofnet.org you will find more information about The Swedish Crane Study Group and Lake Hornborga. You will be able to consult the figures of the counts of the last 10 years there