The Travels of Tug 44

Sandhill Crane

In late March 2019, we were cruising the Fort Edward grasslands and spotted a group of what looked like Herons in a swamp between two hay fields. There were 6 of them together. Once I saw them thru my camera viewfinder, I realized they were not Herons at all. They looked too fat/bulky and they all had what looked like a "bustle" on their back ends.   high-res

It was a bright sunshine day but the birds were all directly into the sun, which made photography difficult. The birds appeared to be grazing on swamp plants.   high-res

It was not until I got home and put the photos on the big screen that I realized they were all wearing little red hats! And that, plus the "bustles" meant they were Sandhill Cranes. Fort Edward is at the southern end of their breeding area, but none of my photographer friends or myself had even heard of them being here.   high-res

After several minutes, the Sandhill Cranes slowly wandered out of the swamp and into the adjacent hay field ... and it looked like they were hunting mice and voles. Every now and then, one of them would spike something in the hay and swallow it.   high-res

Here, the Sandhill Cranes are lined up in a row, methodically working the hay field. That technique insures nothing can run away and escape.   high-res

And then they went back into the swamp. Here the Sandhill Cranes seem to be having a conference about what to do next.   high-res

Their decision made, the Sandhill Cranes all took to the air and flew north, never to be seen again in this area. What an exciting day!   high-res

Sandhill Cranes are extremely graceful flyers, as they continued on their northward migration. They breed right up to the Arctic Circle.   high-res

The Sandhill Crane, a beautiful long distance migrator with a red hat.

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