Thursday, May 12, 2016

Our Beloved Back Yard Cranes

With a sales agreement for Gainesville house, we are saying farewell to the Sandhill Cranes who have been part of our daily appreciation for the last ten years.

A few cranes stay here year-round (we've named two of them Frasier and Lilith). Between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day migrants come down from the upper Midwest and Canada to stay with us. This winter we had 400-1,000 visible from our porch. It will be easier to leave because we know the crane-viewing will never be this good again.

Kim made the two images above in the rain, which filled our prairie and attracted the cranes and other birds. The large white bird on the left is a Wood Stork.

In the mornings and evenings Kim would photograph them flying in.

She did very little to enhance the color in these photos.

Sandhill Cranes landing resemble parachutists as they drift down.

Take-offs can be dramatic.

In the shot below the cranes are calling to others who are flying over. They may be calling them down, though I'm not sure why they would do that, or they may be announcing their territory. We don't speak crane.

And sometimes we saw them enjoying domestic routines such as eating.

A glass lizard makes a tasty breakfast.

Pair bonding over dinner

In our crane-filled prairie, fighting occasionally broke out, probably over mates.

Most of the scenes, however, were more serene. Kim did not adjust the sunrise colors of these images.

Bathing was a good show,

usually followed by grooming.

Tai Chi was a popular routine for some of them.

With the help of our “Sandhill Crane Display Dictionary” we started to learn what some of the postures and behaviors mean, especially during courtship.

"Dancing facilitates pair bonding and allows rivals to assess one another."

"Object-toss: During dancing, crane may seize a feather, twig, or grass stem, fling it upward, and watch it fall." In the photo below, the courtship object is a cow-pie.

All of that courtship led to mating.

And mating led to parenting. Kim took the three photos below a few years ago.

This year we discovered a nesting pair about 100 yards from our house. Two colts hatched. The one below is one day old. The egg is negative one day old.

Birth announcement? Call for parenting advice?

Watching for predators

Feeding the one-day old colt

The day after Kim took the photos above, we returned to the nesting area and found that all four Sandhill Cranes were gone. As the colts could not travel very far, we guessed that a coyote got them, or maybe our resident eagle. The shot below, taken a year ago, shows a distant coyote carrying off a colt.

But let's conclude this blog entry with something more joyful.

Dancing to impress the lady?

Yes, it will be tough to leave this magical place.

1 comment:

  1. This blog is beautiful. And the pictures are astoundingly beautiful!