A large flock of Sandhill Cranes were seen circling the farm this weekend. The sight and sounds of Cranes are always a sure sign of spring but this is a little earlier than normal. We hope to have more visiting the farm this year. Last year we had a pair checking out the wetlands in the fall. We are still amazed at their remarkable turnaround from being an endangered species.
Sandhill Cranes give out unusual loud rattling bugle calls, each lasting a couple of seconds and often strung together. They can be heard up to 2.5 miles away and are given on the ground as well as in flight. They are very distinctive from the Canada Geese we frequently see and hear.
Check out the video that was recorded this past weekend to hear their distinctive call – Sandhill Cranes
Here are some cool facts you may have not known about Sandhill Crane’s
- The Sandhill Crane has recovered significantly in the last 30-40 years and now are fairly common though local to northern Illinois. They have expanded their territory into the Midwest prairie areas and are starting to nest further south. In some areas during migration they congregate in the hundreds of thousands.
- They are large birds, often over four feet tall.
- The Sandhill Crane’s call is a loud, rolling, trumpeting sound whose unique tone is a product of anatomy: Sandhill Cranes have long tracheas (windpipes) that coil into the sternum and help the sound develop a lower pitch and harmonics that add richness.
- Sandhill Cranes are known for their dancing skills. Courting cranes stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance.
- The elegance of cranes has inspired people in cultures all over the world—including the great scientist, conservationist, and nature writer Aldo Leopold, who wrote of their “nobility, won in the march of aeons.”
- Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round. Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching.
- The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed in the Macasphalt Shell Pit in Florida.
- Sandhill Crane chicks can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching, and are even capable of swimming.
- The oldest Sandhill Crane on record was at least 36 years, 7 months old. Originally banded in Wyoming in 1973, it was found in New Mexico in 2010.