Crane dance at Hornberga Lake


Sweden is fantastic. The nature is so varied and there are many things to be proud of. My country has a varied wild life and different forms of landscapes. In the county Västergötland/Western Gothia there is a famous lake. It has become famous for its attractions of birds and is called Hornberga Lake. It was shaped about 10 000 years ago and the first primitive settlement nearby that has been found is ca 9000 years old. 2000 years ago the first villages near Hornberga Lake appeared: Tranum, Bolum, Bjällum and Hornberga. Already back then this lake was teaming with animal life, but as we know nature is harsh and relentless sometimes.

In the beginning of the 19th century Sweden suffered from famine. In order to create better pastures the authorities decided to lower the water level in Hornberga Lake. This was done in 1802. Four more times the water level was lowered up to 1933, and the lake area shrunk in size from 28 square kilometres to 4 square kilometres. The arable disappeared gradually and was instead replaced by sea grass and the lake turned into a large swamp. Still it was one of northern Europe’s most prominent bird lakes. Between 1933 and 1956 the marshes and the lake turned increasingly dry. That year the Swedish Conservancy Board investigated the possibility to restore the Hornberga Lake. A restoration was begun. Twenty years ago, in 1992 – 1995, the water level was risen anew with 0,8 metres. They opened up the original effluant, and a water basin was built to adjust the water flow. Eleven kilometres of canals were covered, and they removed loads of sea grass and disforested ca 800 treas. The re-establishment of mowing fields and pastures did cost ca 170 million kronor in 1995.

Hornberga Lake is mostly famous for attracting moving cranes. The cranes (Grus Grus) come flying from the south in the spring and stay for a short while at Hornberga Lake to rest before they move on to their breeding nests in the north. Then they come once more in the autumn on their way south for their winter quarters in central and southern Europe. In the spring thousands of cranes take a rest by Hornberga Lake. 12 000 cranes is not an unusual sight. The all-time-high was set last year on April 3d 2012. Then 26 500 cranes were moving around at the site. The old record was from March 31st 2009 when 18 500 cranes were counted. Apart from cranes other birds also appear by this lake: ducks, grebes, thrush-singers and others.

Yesterday Hornberga Field Station wrote this in their web diary: “Certainly the spring was remarkably late this year, but now it slowly but clearly appears. Most of the pausing cranes have now moved on to their breeding nests, (and those cranes who’re going to nest by the lake have in many cases started their breeding preparations), and other species now turn up. During this last week both redtails and black-heads have shown up in the surroundings, the swallows increase in numbers and pausing albirds and sky larks were noted during yesterday’s counting of swimming birds. Also a heron has been seen during the week, even if only briefly – Out and search. It might still be in the area”.

If you ever have the possibility to enjoy the scenery and the bird life at Hornberga Lake I suggest that you contact the Hornberga Field Station at, e-mail them on or call them on +46 (0)500-49 12 82. Good luck!

Anders Moberg, April 29th 2013



2 thoughts on “Crane dance at Hornberga Lake

  1. Anders Moberg, I am completing a biography of Thure Kumlien who collected at Hornborga Lake in the 1830s. I need an image of the cranes there for the book. Can I use your sketch page in a high resolution image? Please contact me as quickly as you can. Martha Bergland

    • That is okay, Martha, as long as you mention who the artist is, and from where the drawing is taken, that is the blogg “Swedish heart and soul”, article “Crane dance at Hornberga Lake”.

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