Thursday, July 20, 2006

sandhill cranes



This time I was ready, and my subjects were a bit farther away and more willing.

Like bald eagles, sandhill cranes were a relatively uncommon sight in this area until within the last fifteen years. Farming practices and hunting in the early 1900's pushed the crane population further north and west until only a few nesting pairs remained in northwestern Minnesota. A single captive male crane held at a game farm/wildlife research facility in east central Minnesota in the 1960's may be responsible for bringing sandhill cranes back to the area. According to this article , the male would call in migrating females and successfully fledged several broods over a few years. These cranes returned to the same area and established a breeding population that has since been expanding its range into marshes and hayfields throughout east central Minnesota.

Every spring I hear a pair of sandhill cranes return to the marsh behind my house, their raucous, prehistoric call echoing through the tamaracks. That is music to me.

8 comments:

Rurality said...

So cool! I'm jealous. I love their calls too, it's one of my favorites in the bird world.

Floridacracker said...

Here, the sandhills have managed to acclimate to man and are often seen in backyards and fields. My son was chased from a swamp by an aggessive sandhill when he was little. I'm not kidding.
In downtown Gainesville, the University has an Ag Science cow pasture that sports hundreds of cranes in the winter.
Cool birds.

Tracy said...

That's one Minnesota bird I've never seen, and would love to. The MN DNR site shows that they next along the Mississippi all the way down to the Cities, but I've never heard of anyone seeing one around here.

Plus, I liked your account of seeing the bittern. I've seen them in Southwestern MN, and they are pretty skittish.

madcapmum said...

The sandhills are signs of spring and fall in these parts, great wheeling circles of them so high in the sky that you get a crick in the neck trying to spot them. I've never been closer than that. The call really is distinctive, even from such a distance.

Lynne said...

That's a beautiful photo- looks like the middle of summer. Beautiful birds!

Sylvia said...

Wow!

Deb said...

Rurality-I'm jealous of your box turtles, so you can be jealous of my cranes.

FC- I would not want to be chased down by a five foot tall bird! Maybe some of my cranes spend the winter there.

Tracy- Carlos Avery Wildlife Area, just north of the cities, has lots of cranes. That's where the male crane I was talking about was kept. And, bitterns are definitely skittish, so I thought it odd that that one would go into its freeze pose on a roadside, completely exposed!

madcap- I'm guessing those are migrant birds if they're flying so high. That must be a sight to see.

lynne and Sylvia- Thanks, something in the lines of the round bales and the hayfield really spoke to me too. There's beauty to be found every day, if we are open to it.

Jim said...

That's a really nice photo Deb...