Sand Hill Crane in Western MA

A single crane stopping through.

A ballet dancer!

When I arrived at the farm where they had been seen, the fields were empty so I drove around the area for a while but saw nothing in the way of large birds! On the way back I stopped at the farm again and saw a little brown spot in the distance. Sure enough, a single crane who started walking toward me. With those long legs, he made good, quick progress and stopped about 75-100 yards away. His goal seems to have been a little muddy spot in the field. He proceeded to pick around in the muck and bring up twigs and other debris which he used in his grooming routine. I watched for about 1/2 hour while he turned himself into a pretzel rubbing this gunk all over his feathers, even under his wings.

Pecking around

Picking up debris and preening

Then he stretched and strutted along to another muddy patch.

I watched him scratch…

And drink…

And finally he answered the call of the others. This was an amazing sound and went on for nearly a minute. Having read that the male cranes lift their heads straight up to call whereas the females hold their heads in the normal position, parallel to the ground, I now know that this was a male.

If you want to hear that call, here is a youTube example. Go to 1:03 on the video:

Finally he flew over to the other side of the hill where I spotted him in the distance. (Flight pictures didn’t work out in the low light of the cloudy day.)

It began raining and that was the end of my visit for this year.

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