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Here’s Hoping

On May 24, 2011, in Nature, by Meghan
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Early this morning, the local public radio station reported a story about the Highway 224 Sandhill Crane family that has drawn the attention and love of Park City, Utah residents, including me. According to the story, a Park City boy brought home to his parents a Sandhill Crane colt. His family turned the baby bird over to local wildlife officials. A wildlife official introduced this stolen colt to the famous Sandhill Crane family of Highway 224 and, whaddya know, they accepted it.

What a story to wake up to on a Tuesday morning! So excited was I that I jumped in my car to go see the new family addition. What I found when I arrived, however, was not what I expected. It was Momma and Poppa Sandhill, sans colts, looking a little worse for the wear after some nasty weather overnight.

That they were alone didn’t bother me right away, as Sandhill Cranes are known for hunkering themselves and their young down when the weather gets rough. But, the adult cranes’ behavior was erratic at best. They were moving quick, flying from here to there, making lots audible calls, and causing a raucous in the animal kingdom. If they had hidden their young ones somewhere, I would expect them to stay in the vicinity of their young and not do anything to draw attention to themselves.

I stayed for an hour and this is the stuff that I saw:

Momma Sandhill Crane walking without her colts in Park City, Utah (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Poppa Sandhill Crane sans babies in Park City, Utah (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Momma Sandhill Crane crosses a bike path (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Notice that this Sandhill Crane, who is on top of a beaver lodge, is getting dive-bomed from the left by a female Red-Winged Blackbird. The animal kingdom wasn't happy with the Sandhill Cranes (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

A male Red-Winged Blackbird dive-bombing Poppa Sandhill Crane (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

The male Red-Winged Blackbird is still dive-bombing Poppa Sandhill Crane. This blackbird was feisty, and didn't give up easily (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

I left feeling sad and worried. Where were the natural baby and the adopted colt?

In the early afternoon, I returned, still feeling sad, still hoping. This time, the adult Sandhill Cranes were together and several hundred yards from their home turf, farther away than they were in the morning. I saw no sign of the two colts.

In conclusion, I don’t know what’s up. Maybe, just maybe, the Sandhill Crane babies (both the natural offspring of this pair as well as the adopted colt) are alive, well, and tucked into a pretty good hiding spot. Maybe not. Here’s hoping that a little more magic graces this Sandhill Crane family.

(Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)

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4 Responses to “Here’s Hoping”

  1. Ewa says:

    Now I am beginning to worry too. Keep us posted.

  2. Gretchen says:

    Please, magic, manifest!

    Impressive photos, Meghan. They definitely yank at the heart. We’re hoping right alongside you!

  3. Meghan says:

    Ewa, sorry to make you worry as well. :(

    Gretchen, thanks! I recently acquired and made functioning my dad’s last digital camera and some of his lenses. It’s been fun playing with them, though I’ve forgotten almost everything he taught me.

  4. [...] about some of my experiences with a nesting pair of sandhill cranes here, here, and (sadly) here. Tagged with: Alaska • book review • Faith of Cranes • Hank [...]

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