After a beautiful but somewhat uneventful morning walk in Riverside, I went swimming. By the time I got to the gym, the temperature was probably around 54 degrees F. I had a good swim, walked out to my car and heard Sandhill Cranes. I have heard Sandhills but not seen them the last few days. This time, I looked up, and saw about 30 flying northwest, but they were too far away to photograph. Or so I thought. I took out my camera anyway, and then as if on cue, more cranes kept coming. They dropped their elevation and swirled around in a kettle, joining each other with exuberance. I couldn’t help but feel it was just for me. I kept looking around for someone to share the glorious experience, but there was no one to witness this moment but me. I tried to capture it best I could.

Below is a Very Short Video I took with my phone which at least gives you a glimpse – and a little soundtrack.

And here are some of the many photos I took of various groups and configurations.

It occurred to me that the Sandhills were dancing in the air, their choreography as precise as when they perform their courtship dances on the ground.

I’ll be back with some of Riverside later, but I just had to share this now. Birders on the Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts (IBET) list serve have been posting about Sandhills for the last few days. If you’re in the Chicago area and outside between 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM you just might get lucky and hear and see some of this spectacle.

8 thoughts on “Sandhills!

    • I know – I was thinking about that certain type of proprioception – something like schools of fish but quite different. Every feather must be feeding information to their brains. What amazed me was how they turned around and went to greet each other.

  1. Amazing to see them like that, I hope to see something similar with snow geese one day. Do you think they were riding a thermal up in the video?

    • I am sure they ride thermals because of the way they seem to float in the air without much motion required. And just as I anticipated their movement south for the winter whenever we had strong winds from the north, the reverse is true going in the other direction. We had quite a warm-up today.

  2. Yes, it was a magical Sandhill day. I did not see or hear them in my morning walk. But, by 11 I was getting calls and when I got home I just watched wave after wave fly by and emit there croaking spring time sounds.

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