Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sandhill Cranes and Turkey Vultures

I drove down a sideroad to take pictures of Wodehouse Creek (last post), and while standing there heard the haunting bugling call of the Sandhill Cranes from deep in the marsh.  The creek flows through a large area of marsh just downstream from the spring it flows from, and I've seen Sandhill Cranes here in previous years - but I didn't know they would return so early, with a foot or more of snow still on the ground.

This picture is (obviously, we still have a foot of snow!) from last year.  Sandhill Cranes are such an interesting bird, and relatively new to this region, only being seen for the last few years.  They are expanding their range eastwards.  Now I have a new place to go and try to photograph them.

Turkey Vultures have been returning fast too; we've seen numerous vultures soaring the skies, and a few picking at the roadkill that seems to be their favourite food.  We will almost always be able to see at least one soaring in the sky from our yard for the next 6 months.

I also encountered a pair of killdeer the other day, picking their way across a gravel driveway that doesn't get much summer traffic.  I'm sure I saw a pair near there last year, so if I watch more closely, maybe I'll have a chance to get pictures.

There are other returning birds around too, like the cowbirds and grackles, but more noticeably, the birds that have stayed here all winter, like woodpeckers, have changed their behaviour.  I now hear them drumming out their calls on their favourite trees, their version of a mating call.

The chickadees are leaving their small flocks that came to the feeder, and dispersing in pairs to find nesting sites.  They're not nearly as obvious during the summer as during the winter.  And a pair of mourning doves has started building a nest on a ledge under the eave.

The first wave of spring migrants has rejoined us; spring is actually going to arrive after all!  I was starting to wonder!


  1. Hi Furry....
    Great shots of the birds...never seen a Killdeer up close!
    To answer your question....haven't been to the cottage for a week....went last Monday and did a post...
    I sure hope things are melting out there....unfortunately the Lake was still frozen solid!
    Those pics were from my archives....only dreaming! Hahaha!
    Enjoy your week...
    Linda :o)

  2. I saw one pair of Sandhill Cranes last week..the Juncos are here. I have Chickadees, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers year round. I wish I knew when to look for their young..sometimes I see smaller versions but not until later in the summer. Enjoy the nicer weather! :)

  3. I have seen killdeer up close when they were pulling the wounded wing feint because I was near the nest.

  4. I always enjoy seeing birds from your side of the ocean; so different from what we get over here though the occasional Killdeer that turns up here causes much excitement. The snow will soon be a distant memory.

  5. I don't have too many migrants yet. We've had a few Starlings (not the most welcome bird), no Goldfinches yet, and I've had Chickadees, and Nuthatches, House Finches, etc.

  6. everybody "getting busy" so to say!! i watch all the birds in my yard but have not learned all their habits. i worked for a long time on recognizing their calls which i am much better at now. also their eating habits, i've got that about down pat!!

    beautiful images today, i'm still trying to perfect the flight shot ;)

  7. We never see the sandhill cranes but the other two birds we do see often. Our rocky roadside of an interstate near hear gets a lot of killdeer. You took some great shots.

  8. It would be very exciting to see a sandhill crane. They sure are large birds. I have seen a lot of robins on the way to town today but only one on our property as it landed quickly and left. No grass showing here. The heavy rain for tomorrow will bring down the snow a lot. I love to hear the killdeer when they arrive.

  9. Well, I saw a robin today. That's a start!

  10. I certainly enjoyed running across your blog. Photography, writing are my passions as well combined with hiking my dog and birding. All about nature I guess....:)