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.