What is it about Sandhill Cranes?

On a beautiful autumn day a few years ago my wife and I heard the ancient sound of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes coming over the North hill. After circling for a while, they then regrouped and continued south. Flock after flock came over the North hill heading toward their resting place for the night, the marshes near Lake Monroe. Some groups flew in loose v-formations and others formed long meandering strings.

Cranes are ancient birds. They mate for life and lay two eggs per year but usually only one chick survives the first year. Average life span is between 20 and 40 years. During migration they can cover up to 450 miles per day.

Here's what Max M. said in March of 2009 about the Sandhills after her visit to their migratory stopover at the Platte River, Nebraska:

"There were about 35,000 cranes roosting near the blind in the Monday predawn trip, and the guides told us afterward that the closest were only 20 feet away from us. Being so close was beyond thrilling. When they lifted off the sound of their voices and wings was practically deafening, moving me as much as what I saw.

"The experience of seeing and hearing the cranes was unbelievable, and I'll never be able to fully describe how I felt. My soul was touched over and over and over again with a feeling of deep connection to these magnificent birds. And because 10-million year old cranes fossils have been discovered in Nebraska I also felt connected to a time on earth eons ago. The experts think the migratory pattern that I was witnessing has been going on forever."

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