Well, a little while ago, I went with my friends Ann and David to track down the illusive sandhill cranes in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts. Well, they weren’t so illusive this time (this was my third try this summer!). Ah what a beautiful pair. Gorgeous because we found them close by the Chesterfield Gorge! My friend who lives nearby said that she has seen a third crane as well. So stay tuned for the Sandhill Soap Opera, “Cranes of our Lives…”
The Cornell Ornithology app does not have their range extending into the Massachusetts but this is the third year the pair has been here and rumor has it there is a breeding pair in the eastern part of the state. The app says that they have beautiful courtship displays to form mating pairs (they mate for life), and other displays to maintain the pair bond. Also, a crane fossil about 10 million years old was found in Nebraska that is structurally identical to the modern Sandhill Crane, “making it the oldest known bird species still surviving” Oh Baby!
Remember back in October, Ann and I had incredibly luck (due to Ann’s eagle eyes) finding them before they headed south. They were white with the beautiful red crown. As you can see, they are a brownish color now. Actually, their real color in the summer is gray but they preen with mud and vegetation containing iron oxide which colors them the reddish brown. Even with the brown coloring, they continue to sport that very eye-catching crimson crown! Take a look:
Here are some other pictures. You can click on any pic to enlarge: