Sunday, January 6, 2019

Tracking Sandhill Cranes


Every year as Fall and Winter approaches, I am reminded of one of my favorite bird species flying the friendly skies over the Midwest and South. As they fly over cities and towns and farmlands, you may not always see them at first, but you will definitely hear them coming as they sound off with their unique sqawk.

This first image I had never posted. As I prepared this post, I wanted to share an image I hadn't previously.


The Sandhill Cranes begin their journey farther north in Canada each Fall and slowly travel thousands of miles south along the eastern edges of the Mississippi Migratory Flyway. Many eventually end up in Hiawasee Wildlife Refuge in southeast Tennessee.

In this image, it was a sky blue day and late afternoon sun was highlighting the beautiful tips of the Sandhill's wings.


However, they stop multiple times along the way to rest and feed in plowed cornfields in the Midwest. The Sandhill Cranes are a beautiful majestic bird standing some 5' tall and spanning a width even longer.

Almost devoid of color, the late afternoon sky was pale white as the Sandhill Cranes flew over. Only the slightest hint of warm sun highlighted their wings.


One of the many resting places each year on their annual journey south, finds them in the thousands in Ewing Bottoms, just west of Seymour, Indiana. Here they rest, feed and continue their mating ritual dances in an effort to attain a forever life mate.

One of my favorite images of all the photographs I have captured of the Sandhill Cranes. I love the detail you can see in the feathers and the body of this majestic bird. Best of all when you capture an image and can see their beautiful red eyes clearly. That's the best.


They move around the cornfields in Ewing Bottoms and near the river bed foraging and flying in and out daily. They may rest here for several weeks, but they always move on flying further south to warmer climes. I captured these images and many more over a two year period honing my skills in phohtographing the Cranes in their natural habitat.


Their red foreheads, long, sleek legs, gray feathers, dotted with rusty spots, are all characteristic of their appearance. If you decide to track the Sandhill Crane, know these birds have rights too. I hope you will respect that as you attempt to photograph them. Always keep your distance. You will know if you are too close, as they will slowly walk away from you. Knowing this, you can get some wonderful photographs if you know when to snap.

From mating rituals to foraging to landing and liftoff. I hope you enjoyed this look back. I hope to be able to visit Hiawasee in southeast Tennessee this January before the Sandhill Cranes move back north. We shall see. I'll be back soon.

Photographer's Note: I met with a Wildlife Resources Officer for Tennessee today at Old Hickory Lake. He confirms the Sandhill Cranes are now moving north back to their breeding grounds. A tad early albeit, but case in fact.ENJOY!

7 comments :

  1. I love seeing your photos, though it makes me want to see them again that much worse. There used to be a few come to the strip pits near here, plus we would see them fly over. But haven't seen then here in the past couple or three years. But can drive an hour or so and see a few, or drive 2-3 hours and see a lot in the fall or spring.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely compliment. I appreciate it. From what I understand those Cranes are heading north. Lord I hope they don't get stuck in frigid temps in February. Carol

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  2. beautiful light in your crane shots. They are wonderful.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate it. Carol

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  3. Never seen one, but I would love to. I just found out that they have been in Maine since 2000, so may have a chance. I love very shot in this post.

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    1. Thanks Sandy. I just loved photographing them. Carol

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  4. beautiful series of photos...thank you for sharing.
    have a great weekend

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