SANDHILL CRANES AND OTHER ENCOUNTERS


It was another great afternoon and evening along the Mississippi in the Green Island Wetlands. The big migration continues and I had a few more “first of the year” encounters today. Beside thousands of Mallards I saw about 20 Northern Pintails, 4 Northern Shovelers, and 2 American Wigeons. There are still large numbers of Greater White-fronted Geese flying in before sunset.

I was happy to see three Sandhill Cranes a couple days ago but was even happier today when a pair of cranes within shooting range foraged just in front of me. I heard some frogs earlier this week and I’m sure the cranes find what they are looking for. This photo shows a typical scene, while one bird is observing the surrounding area, the other one can search for food. These cranes are omnivorous and exploit subsurface food by probing with their bills. This is why we can see the bill covered with mud quite often. By the way, while I’m writing these lines and look at my pictures I realized how good the grasses and reeds from last year look. I guess this is due to the fact that we didn’t have huge amounts of heavy snow that pushed everything to the ground for weeks.

My excitement grew a little later, just before sunset, when another swoop of 12 Sandhill Cranes flew in for the night. Last year we had way over a hundred cranes in the wetlands in March and I hope the numbers will grow this year again.