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Sandhill Crane Spotting in Northern Suburbs

My very favorite bird sighting - the Sandhill Crane!

Since it was a beautiful, un-wintry, sunny February day and since my brain has been gyrating wildly between the pressure of schedules, things to do and Sophia Grace and Rosie belting out "Super-Bass" (which is adorable except when it repeats in your brain 12,000 times) I decided to talk a walk today, by myself, sans phone or ear-plugs hooked into my music thingy. And because I did not have my ears plugged into music I heard what I would have otherwise missed - the calls of Sandhill Cranes. At first, I thought I was hearing the rattle call of a crow, which does sound similar but the Sandhill Crane call is more purr-like.  

As soon as I got home I went to Wikipedia to read up on this bird that I've only seen a handfull of times in my entire life. I particularly liked this erudite entry, "Sandhill Cranes are quite catholic in diet but are mainly herbivorous." And I was stunned to learn this amazing fact: they have a wing span of between 5 and 9.5 feet, putting them in league with eagles. Nonetheless, I think they are hard to see up in the sky because they are light and white and blend in if the day is clear. I'm fortunate I heard them.  

The group of Sandhill Cranes I saw today were doing something I had not seen before. They would congregate in a circular sort of puddle and then break out into a formation and then congregate in a circular puddle and then break out into a formation. I don't know what this means. Maybe someone with more knowledge of birds can explain that to me. 

More from Wikipedia: apparently from my vantage point here in the northern suburbs of Atlanta the Sandhill Crane is on a migratory route northward and slightly northwest on his way to Michigan and Minnesota and Canada.   

So glad I opted to leave the ear-phones at home. 

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Ralph Stepp February 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM
As birders we would be most interested in the location and time you spotted the Sandhill Cranes. Documenting path and sighting locations would aid in increasing the awareness to these special birds. Thank you for the wonderful words. We missed them in Tuscon last week as most had already left for the Summer Ranges of Sandhills.
Marc February 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Saw and heard them too! Way up high they were but you could hear them loud and clear.
Ann Marie Quill (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I just watched the birders movie The Big Year this past weekend. Have you guys seen it? What did you think?
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg February 24, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I saw the Sandhill Cranes just after noon flying over Crabapple on February 23rd. In previous years, I've sighted them in Crabapple and a few miles up the road at Birmingham Highway and Batesville Road.
Ralph Stepp February 25, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Note from our Birding Friends in Tuscon: Interesting about the Sandhill Cranes. We were in Tubac this week and did talk with someone who went to Wilcox(east of here) and saw some. I guess we should have taken you to White Water Draw and maybe we would have got lucky. Next time. From some information about the Winter grounds and projected fly-way we could expect to see them in and around some of the shallow lakes which spot the area around this sighting. With this information time and location let us keep a watch out for them. Documenting a ground sighting in the area would help too. 5000 Sandhill Cranes on Paynes Prairie near Gainesville Florida see Map http://www.wildflorida.com/articles/Sandhill_Cranes_on_Paynes_Prairie.php
dan ross February 25, 2012 at 05:19 PM
i live in southern ontario [eastern canada]and get to see there fall and spring migrations only over the last 5yrs ,they seem to be drifting this way ,global warming?'who knows ,very elusive bird but fascinating to watch,seen them raftinguntil out of sight,and more
No Name February 26, 2012 at 03:15 AM
First sighting here in Alpharetta 2 weeks ago. Counted approximately 50 in the flock.
Marc March 01, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Saw them again today above Banister Rd in Cumming. See new picture I uploade. Shot fro quite aways.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 02, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I also had another Sandhill Crane sighting yesterday, 2/29, above Crabapple - only about 5 or 6. Thanks for the new pictures Marc!
Kristen March 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I also had an sighting yesterday - large flock of around 50 noisy cranes flying very low over Will's Park in Alpharetta at 12:30 pm
Marc March 02, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Just saw them at 369 and Hendrix road in Cumming. Could not get my camera out in time!

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