Friday, December 5, 2008

Crex Meadows: Sandhill Cranes

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to travel up to Crex Meadows to photograph the sandhill cranes that stage there in preparation for their fall migration south. This year I made several trips to Crex in the fall but my trip on October 30th turned out to be my most productive for sandhill pics.
During the summer these large birds, approximately 45 to 50 inches tall with a 75 to 80 inch wingspan, spend their time on breeding territories in Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States.
Crex has a small population of sandhills that stay and nest in the park. Sandhills like to nest in bogs, marshes, or wet grasslands which makes Crex optimal breeding habitat.
Sandhill nests are made of vegetation and are usually free floating on the water or anchored to vegetation. If you look carefully during the early summer you might be lucky enough to see a colt, sandhill chicks are called colts, walking along side its parents in the tall grass.
Colts are able to walk shortly after hatching and are able to feed themselves within 24 hours after hatching. Sandhill cranes eat mostly seeds and grain but will also supplement their diet with a little protein, insects or small vertebrates.
Land management at Crex includes some open farmland where grains are raised, and left in the field, to help feed the cranes and geese who stop and stage at Crex on their way south. This is one of the reasons why as many as 8000 cranes and 12,000 Canada and snow geese can be seen here each fall.

3 comments:

Leedra said...

Wonderful information and photos in this post.

gina said...

thesea re wonderful, but i really like the 2nd one...the background, his posture and that red cap is so prominent. perfect! :)

Mike Hendrickson said...

Nice photos!