The Sandhill Crane

I have a very good friend, Lori, who lives down the street from me, same neighborhood. Part of this neighborhood is claimed by a large! pond and marshy area. Lori and her family are lucky enough to live, just past the groomed backyard, on this marshland. Although the open water has been crowded out by cattails, that does have it’s advantages. Boggy areas and muskrat mounds dot the watery landscape, creating the perfect nesting spots for the Sandhill Crane. Meanwhile, the cattails provide shelter and camouflage.

Last week Lori called me to tell me about a pair of nesting Cranes on a bog in their marshland. They have two chicks — very common (one maybe, three rare). Well, last night, as they returned to their nest for the evening, safe from predators, she called me to say that all four were visible and I should come with my camera to photograph them. Dusk was falling, but the light was still good. I took camera, telephoto lens and try-pod, hopped in my Gator, and two minutes later was on their back deck. Quite a distance away, I saw the brown movement of the adults. I needed binoculars to locate them directly and set up my camera. The best I could do was put the “automatic” setting on and shoot. Rob, Lori’s husband, would let me know when the chicks were visible and I’d start clicking. Cropping the photo would let me know if I had a sharp original. We had fun! A glass of wine and good conversation afterward was the reward — I guess the photos were too!

This is as close as I could get with my 400 zoom lens.

Cropping definitely helps!

parents and one chick
both chicks staying close
those legs are growing
best I could do

Interesting facts about the Sandhill Crane:

  • Get their common name from the habitat found at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska’s sandhills.
  • Within the last few decades, the SHC have greatly expanded their nesting range and numbers in the upper Midwest.
  • They will migrate southeast toward Florida in the winter.
  • They reach their peak numbers at migratory stopovers on the Great Plains.
  • The early spring gathering of Sandhills on the Platte River in Nebraska is among the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent, with over a quarter of a million birds present at one time.
  • The chicks leave the nest within a day after hatching, follow parents in to the marsh. Both parents feed the young at first, but they gradually learn to feed themselves. Age at first flight about 65-75 days. Young remain with parents for 9-10 months, accompanying them in migration. 

Thank you, Audubon, for this information. You can learn something new every day!

#sandhillcrane #sandhillcraneinmn #sandhillcraneinuppermidwest #nestingsandhillcranes #nestingsandhillcranesinmn #nestingsandhillcranesinuppermidwest #nature


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