Monday, March 16, 2015

The Sandhill Cranes are Back!

 Sandhill cranes recently returned to the ranch, to my great delight. These huge birds are so fascinating, and they really leave no doubt that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. Sandhill cranes have been around for quite awhile (although not as long as dinosaurs); their fossils have been dated back as far as 2.5 million years.

The photo above shows the reddish feathers on these sandhill cranes. Those are due to foraging in iron-rich mud. Also note the curved feathers on the rump.

I got out of the van to take the photo, and that spooked the birds, so they took off.

This photo isn't quite in focus, but the shape of the bird makes it look so much like a pterodactyl that I had to include it!

The sandhill cranes made a big circle and flew in the beautiful golden hour sunlight.

As I was editing the photos I saw that the birds flew in sync.

But then they didn't. Why not? Well, probably due to a small weight difference, although both sexes are nearly the same size. Sandhill cranes mate for life, which is sometimes more than 20 years. During the summer, sometimes up to 30 sandhill cranes stay at the ranch. I haven't seen baby sandhill cranes, but my husband has. Typically they raise just one young a year.

Back in sync again, with the shadowed foothills in the distance. For more about sandhill cranes, along with a recording of their cool sound, check out this Cornell Lab of Ornithology link.


jhami said...

I love those birds!

Andrea said...

I really want to see some of these...someday...

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