John Vukmirovich has a theory on sandhill cranes.
The Southeast Side man is a great observer of wildlife, particularly of sandhills over Chicago. On March 6, many people observed a massive migration of sandhills around Chicago and the suburbs, including Rick Remington who sent the photo above.
The following week several readers and myself wondered if sandhills have become the new natural sign of spring.
Vukmirovich had some interesting thoughts on why we notice sandhills more:
Here's my take on why we're seeing all of the sandhills in recent years:
The sandhills have always been here; we're just better at identifying them. Further, as people expanded the suburbs, they've been in the right places at the right times to see them. My father was born in South Chicago in 1921, but grew up in a house off Torrence Avenue near Lake Calumet. As a boy during the Depression, he saw the cranes often, although he never knew what they were. In the late 1980s after he retired from the mill, he began seeing them again, this time migrating over our house, literally. Had they disappeared for all of those years? No. Since he would be at work, and with me in school, we just simply missed them. When he starting seeing them again, and after we identified them and "timed" them, we made sure we could be around the house that first week of March when they came over (and sometimes in the fall, but they were harder to "time"). And we almost always saw them. That's been going on now some 25 years for me. They've been around, but let's face it, most people can't see five feet ahead of themselves, or five feet back. (Or five minutes.) Why would you expect them to even look up?
John Vukmirovich, professional Sandhill crane spotter
I like his ideas very much, especially when combined with increasing numbers of sandhills.