Sandhill Sunrise

September 18, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Sometimes when I am out in the field waiting for the sun to come up, I get to experience some beautiful sunrises. Located on the south-western edge of Lake Superior, we see a lot more beautiful sunrises than we see sunsets. Unless of course you are sound asleep in your cozy bunk like most folks. Maybe think about getting up early and heading out to the lake. Autumn produces some spectacular sunrises.

This particular morning I was greeted by a pair of Sandhill Cranes as they moved towards their daily feeding grounds or possibly on their way South to their winter home. Why does that sound like a good idea?

Cool Facts

  • The Sandhill Crane’s call is a loud, rolling, trumpeting sound whose unique tone is a product of anatomy: Sandhill Cranes have long tracheas (windpipes) that coil into the sternum and help the sound develop a lower pitch and harmonics that add richness.
  • Sandhill Cranes are known for their dancing skills. Courting cranes stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance.
  • The elegance of cranes has inspired people in cultures all over the world—including the great scientist, conservationist, and nature writer Aldo Leopold, who wrote of their “nobility, won in the march of aeons.”
  • Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round. Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching.
  • The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed in the Macasphalt Shell Pit in Florida.
  • Sandhill Crane chicks can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching, and are even capable of swimming.
  • The oldest Sandhill Crane on record was at least 36 years, 7 months old. Originally banded in Wyoming in 1973, it was found in New Mexico in 2010.

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