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Wild Saturday: Sandhills, everywhere

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Reports of sandhill cranes are everywhere.sandhills03-06-10

I first heard them, sandhills not just the reports, at Sand Ridge Nature Center this morning.

Apparently that true all around the whole of Chicago outdoors.

Or maybe it was just the first truly gorgeous Saturday since December. But I suspect there was a major flight going on from the reports on my e-mail tonight.

First came from Rick Remington, who also sent the photo above:

I took these in Crabtree Nature Center yesterday afternoon. I heard them well in advance but could not see them until I was getting ready to leave. This seems very early for cranes? This is always the first reminder of spring for me.

Have a great day!

Then from Jim Hantak in Hillside:
The migrants are coming, I saw a cowbird and a couple of grackles at my feeders this morning and saw a flock of sandhill cranes overhead. I'm still waiting for my first red-winged blackbird of the season.

Then from John Vukmirovich on the Southeast Side:
I saw a small skein, about thirty, at about 9:20, very high, moving westward towards Lake Calumet. (I was at the intersection of 112th and Ewing.) Ten minutes later, in my backyard, on 111th and M, a smaller skein, about a dozen, headed north by northwest, at warp speed. And they were soundless! Not a kroo!

For about an hour, I lingered in my backyard, waiting for more. Two groups passed to the south, around about Wolf Lake heading towards Lake Calumet. I couldn't see them, but I heard them. At about 10:45, while I was waiting for a bus back at 112th and Ewing, two skeins, one quite large (maybe a hundred?) flew over, very, very high, heading west by northwest.

I don't think this was the main event. My guts tell me it's still coming. Maybe tomorrow, if the rain lets up, or perhaps Monday.

But it was a welcome sight after our winter.
I also loved his quip at the end of his e-mail from one of my favorite writers:
"We live in a cheaper [cultural] environment now than we used to." Norman Mailer, 2007.
And that has to be part of it, it is a welcome sight after the winter we had.
Or should I say a welcome croaking after the winter we had. Though John is somebody who disputes with me that their sound is a croaking.

With that, we go to Ken Gortowski, who had his own description of the sound, with a report from the western burbs:

Was out fishing today where the two DuPages become one.
Three small flocks of cranes were heading north, cooing as they went.
Winter is officially over.

Till it snows another time or two.


I don't think so. Croaking is more apt than cooing.

At any rate, if you're outside, pay attention and look high. Birds are moving, and sandhill cranes may be the most noted migrant in recent years.

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Sandhills flying high and "tinkling" their bell-like call, near sunset, over Lake Shelbyville.

Life is good!!

Dale: It was nice to get out and do a little work around the yard after being suck inside all winter. When it got dark last night i started a little kettle fire on the porch. We sat out there until 9:30 listening to dogs barking,two racoons fighting in a neighbors tree, geese flying and honking,coyotes howling in different packs and sandhill cranes "SANDHILL CRANES" I dont think i have ever heard them circling around at night. All in all it was nice to be able to sit outside again. Ed

the funny thing about Saturday was how insanely giddy everybody was. I had to take the oldest boy downtown Saturday afternoon. Granted it was nice out, but it was still 35 or 40 degrees, whatever, along the lakefront, and it was amazing how many people were running or biking in shorts and we were just laughing at them.

Bullfrogs croak. I forgot to put twittering coo in what I sent you. "Tinkling bell-like call" is pretty close. My young cat makes a similar sound when she wants your attention. Babies the same thing. I always hear them long before I can spot them high in the sky. Sometimes I never see them, just that strange noise.

I've seen several Sandhills flying overhead this past week. Would love to know if they congregate south of Valparaiso, IN, at Jasper-Pulaski, during their northern migration. Over the past two years I've spent countless hours photographing them during the fall migration, and would love to know if a trip down to Jasper-Pulaski is something I should do, to catch hundreds/thousands of the magnificent Cranes taking a short break in their journey.

PLEASE, if you know of any accumulations of the cranes in the NW Indiana area, I'd love to hear about it. I have a friend visiting from Tennessee whose not experienced this awesome event.

Email me at:
d u n e l a n d e r (at) g m a i l.c o m
(scrunch the letters together)

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 6, 2010 6:32 PM.

Kankakee River: Is a nice day enough? was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois bucks: On the bell curve is the next entry in this blog.

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