Saturday, July 30, 2011

Surprise Sandhill Cranes

Posted by Kirk
On Friday I took my photography class down to the lake to take our final photos. We were getting nice shots of dragonflies, frogs, the usual suspects. I decided to take the group over to the next lake over and to my surprise we stumbled upon a family of Sandhill Cranes. There were to adults and two colts. They slowing walked away from us and I'm assuming they didn't fly because they had the young with them. These are incredible birds with wing spans of 6 feet or more. The photo above was taken by one of my students Dylan. We decided to take a ride on our solar powered pontoon boat and when the kids came back with their life jackets, this adult walked right past them on the trail. Pretty incredible.

Sandhill crane fossils (or those of very close relatives) have been found in Nebraska. These fossils are 10 million years old making cranes one of the oldest bird species in the world. The birds nesting at the nature center are part of the Great Lakes or Eastern population of Greater Sandhill cranes that overwinter in Georgia and Florida. We've been fairly certain that they are nesting on the property but it is always nice to have confirmation in the form of young wandering around with their parents.