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The Sandhill Crane

North America is home to two species of crane; Whooping, and Sandhill. Every year the Sandhill Cranes fly over my home and land in a small farming community about 7 miles away. A few weekends ago there were over 13k! The first year I saw them was with my friend Janet. She and I drove the few miles into the country, and sat in awe at the sight of 8k in a field. We listened to their "Rattles", and watched as they rested, fed, socialized, and practiced their dancing skills.
Sandhill Cranes Resting At A Local Pond

 I was so overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of this large group, that it wasn't until the following year I could truly appreciate the subtle beauty of them. With amber colored eyes, bright red foreheads, and feathers that run a spectrum of grays, and golds, they are a stunning bird to watch. Graceful and peaceful they routinely "hop" from one field to the next.

A Trio Of Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane

Every year people will ask me if the Sandhills are back, and I tell them it is a day today affair. I have found, and been told, that Sandies like to move when ever their little crane hearts desire. Routinely they will fly south, only to return north a few days later, and vice a versa. How do you know when they finally are moving on for good? After they congregate, and rest, they will fly up into the sky and start what I like to call a "Sandhill Tornado". The cranes will start to fly in circles as they gather altitude other cranes join in from different fields below. Eventually there will be hundreds, if not thousands, and they resemble a cyclone-shape until all at once they shoot off to the North.

The Start Of A Sandhill "Tornado"
 I know many folks will never see a Sandhill, and they might point out that my blog is titled "Everyday Birding", but part of enjoying birds is taking advantage of what might migrate through your local area.  As I am typing this there is a "tornado" of Sandies flying over our home. Their calls are wafting down into my office, and I think, "Goodbye... See y'all next year Sandies!"

Sandhill Cranes