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Sandhill Cranes – Predator’s Choice

It’s getting cold up in Saskatchewan, Canada. The sandhill cranes are on the move, by the hundreds, most likely by the thousands. I saw several huge flocks of them fly south over Montana yesterday, probably on their way to New Mexico, one of several places where they may overwinter.

dscn7081Sandhill cranes, when they’re not migrating, spend most of their time on the ground, eating mostly vegetation, but Wiki says they also feed on berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles, and amphibians.

They are in constant danger of being predated upon. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, cougar, and lynx are only a few of their most obvious predators but they are also in danger from ravens, hawks, owls, and eagles. It’s tough being a sandhill crane.

In the spring when they do their mating dance, they are beautiful to watch. I was lucky enough to have seen this firsthand in the Queen Charlotte Islands but at the time I had no camera with me.
dscn7088Since it is hard to see what they look like, when you can only see them silhouetted against the sky, I borrowed a picture from Wikipedia to show their colours. They are large birds with a height of from 2 ft. 7 in. to 4 ft. If you want to know their wingspan, just spread your arms as far apart as you can and you’d be pretty close.sandhill-crane

I made a very short (6 seconds) video clip as they flew over me. It’s not great footage but if you turn up the sound you can hear the distinctive call of the sandhill cranes.