Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sand Hill Cranes

It's Saturday, and time to stalk more birds in the throes of mating out here on the farm. This morning, I gasped to look out the kitchen window and see two sand hill cranes by the oak tree-- where the eagle was last week. They were in some ways more amazing than the eagle, because they're so much more elusive. Then again, we had dinner last night with two friends who live on the Mississippi River in St. Cloud-- the first to be completely unimpressed by our eagle siting!

I had no idea how big sand hlil cranes are, and their red crests were a beautiful contrast to their elegant brown bodies.

The spring I lived on the Saint John's University campus, I spent several hours sitting by ponds in the woods hoping to spot one-- and now here were a pair right outside my front door! It is a shock.

Of course, we've been hearing them for about a week now. Their call is grating and really loud. It bounces off the house and echoes, and you can hear it everywhere. I'll embed a 20 second video from Yellowstone that demonstrates their call.

They moved away from the house before I could grab my camera, but kept calling from nearby. I went out with the camera and was able to creep up behind the fir trees to get a better look at them as they processed across the farm field to the east of our property. The male follows the female, calling regularly, and the female occasionally calls back. The photo above is one I took, and below I'll put one that really shows them in all their glory... The photo below is from the Cornell Ornithology Library. To visit their page on sand hlil cranes, click here.

No comments: