Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sandhill Crane Family

Every year we hope to see one or two Sandhill Cranes.  The other day we got a good look at a family of four, two adults and two young.  We see them most often along Grey Road 18, in the vicinity of Bognor Marsh, and this time was no exception.

They were separated into two pair when we first saw them, walking slowly through a soybean field.  You can see the adult on the right is larger, and has the characteristic grey neck and head; the youngster on the left still has its reddish brown colouration on the neck and head.

There were another two further away across the field.  Usually only one chick will survive to adulthood in a Sandhill Crane family, so this group has done well.

 Sandhill Cranes apparently mate for life, so the ones we've seen along this road (all close to this spot), may well be the same pair of cranes over the past several years.  One year I saw two Sandhills at a nest in the far distance right in Bognor Marsh itself.

This map, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, show the distribution of Sandhill Cranes in North America.  Blue indicates areas where they winter; yellow where they are seen migrating, and brown where they nest.  They winter mostly in Texas and Mexico, migrate across the U.S., and nest in Canada, all the way to the Arctic.  But notice how they're not found in the east, according to the map, not even in southern Ontario.  So it's still quite unusual to see these huge birds here, and we're glad when we spot them every year.  They are slowly spreading here from northern Ontario and Michigan.

The most unusual thing about Sandhills is their call, described as 'bugling' or 'trumpeting'.  Once you've heard it you'll never forget it.  Check this link and have a listen here!

Eventually all four of them gathered together, and headed away across the field.  A highlight of this summer's wildlife sightings for us!

 Linking to:

19 comments:

  1. There's an occasional pair nesting in Pennsylvania now, one not too far from here. Hopefully they'll continue nesting both there and here.

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  2. Yes very rare here in this part of Ontario and that was great you were able to get the photos you did. Was lucky enough to see two in flight a couple weeks ago. We were very fortunate a few years ago when ranch-sitting in McNeal Arizona to be located only a mile north of the White Water Draw where thousands of Sand Hill Cranes spent the winters. Every morning we had great flocks of Cranes overhead heading up to their feeding grounds south of Wilcox. By late afternoon all those great flocks of Sand Hill Cranes would make their way back to the White Water Draw again flying right over our heads. The sound in the sky was amazing day after day. I sure took a lot of Sand Hill Crane photos back then.

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  3. Such an unusual call. Not to be forgotten!

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  4. I so would love to see some young Sandhill Cranes...they migrate through here, but that is it.

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  5. We don't have them in Virginia. Nice photos!

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  6. Hello, great sighting of the Sandhill Cranes. I hope they all survive, they are cool looking birds. Wonderful photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week ahead!

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  7. Love your photos!
    I have a friend who lives in the Cranes migration path. I may invite myself to stay a few day with her when they go through!

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  8. Great pictures of the Sandhill Cranes.
    Our first sighting of them was in Florida years ago but we were really surprised to see a pair in the Wildwood Golf and RV Park back this May. They were probably stopping for a rest heading for their nesting area in northern Ontario.
    You are right in saying once you've heard their call you will always remember it.
    I'm glad environmentalists are responsible for the repopulating of many species that were on the verge of extinction due to pollution and the destruction of natural habitats.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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  9. What great pictures, FG. That is quite a distinct sound for sure. Thank you for sharing your wonderful sight today!

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  10. I love these elegant/awkward looking things on tall legs! Never see them here.

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  11. I have seen them in Florida when I visit my sister in the wintertime. That call is truly unforgettable. Thanks for the link. :-)

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  12. The Cornell map is somewhat out of date. Sandhills have been nesting regularly in places like Rondeau Provincial Park, Walpole Island and the Lake St. Clair marshes for at least a couple of decades, and continue to expand. They have been on the Bruce Peninsuala for awhile as well. And they migrate through as well. We sometimes get 100 or more at a time passing through the Rondeau area, and places like Long Point often get 100 or more on their Christmas Bird Count.

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  13. We won't be seeing any of the Sandhills where I'm from.
    I'll have to be happy seeing your beautiful photos of them!!

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  14. Very exciting to see the family. They are not here but are in Eastern Wa.
    MB

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  15. How cool to see those cranes! Great pics!

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  16. I didn't know they were here at all!

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