Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sandhill Cranes at the Pond

Daughter Sue, Paul and our grandsons, Josh and Ben, stood on the shore of our pond last week, enjoying the beautiful day. Grandson Ben decided to go exploring and soon discovered he’d come too close to a sandhill crane nest. The birds began calling, then one of them displayed the classic dropped wing act to feign injury to lure an intruder away from the nest. As we watched they called again and again, their calls echoing through the valley. When Ben retreated, the sandhills calmed down. They usually hatch two little ones—I’ll keep watch for them.

For several years a pair of sandhill cranes has nested at our pond. What beautiful birds they are. They stand up to five feet tall with a wingspan of five to six feet. Mostly gray, they have red foreheads and long dark beaks. But perhaps most memorable of all is their call, a throaty, trumpeting, prehistoric sound that once heard is never forgotten. No other bird has a call like it, not even close.

Big blue herons are the other big birds we sometimes see at the pond. Both the sandhills and the big blues have long spindly legs and both may be seen wading in the water. One easy way to tell herons and cranes apart is how they fly. Cranes fly with their necks outstretched; herons fly with their necks tucked back. The big blue heron’s calls are dramatically different too, the big blue heron makes a kind of croaking sound, nothing speculator about it at all.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Life is simpler when you plow around the stump



August 8-14. My week-long writing workshop at The Clearing in Door County. “Writing From Your Life.” And a day-long workshop on Saturday, October 30.

The Clearing Folk School
P.O. Box 65 | 12171 Garrett Bay Road | Ellison Bay, Wisconsin 54210 Toll Free: 877.854.3225 | Monday - Friday 8-4


May 20, 11:00 a.m., Southern Lakes Retired Teachers, 616 Droster Avenue, Burlington. (One-Room Schools)

June 8, 7:00 p.m. Launch for Horse Drawn Days, Barnes and Noble West Madison.

June 9, 10:30 a.m. College Days, UW-Madison campus. Ames County Series.

June 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Horse Drawn Days at Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI. Discussion of book and demonstrations with horses and horse drawn equipment.
June 15, 12:00 noon. Wis Historical Society Museum on the Square. Horse Drawn Days.

July 13, 7:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Central Wis. Launch of Horse Drawn Days.


Anonymous said...

It was so cool to see the cranes grandpa. The dance and their call was awesome!

Josh Horman

Anonymous said...

That really was a thrilling experience to see those sandhill cranes. It scared me that they started calling though.

Ben Horman