Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cranes Visit Fredericton

Sandhill Crane Stopover 

Sandhill Crane
Fredericton birdwatchers were treated to a visit from three Sandhill Cranes yesterday.  They actually appeared on October 18, were present on the 19th and are still here today.  They put down from their migration flight south into a large field off Springhill Road to feed and rest.

Sandhill Cranes breed and spend their summers in the northern parts of Ontario and the prairie provinces, Yukon, Nunavut,  Northwest Territories and the Arctic Islands.  They winter in Florida, Texas,  parts of other southern states, and Mexico.  Some live permanently in Florida where they breed and raise young.  They also inhabit China, Korea, Japan and Cuba.

Sandhill Crane
In the group that arrived here there were two adults and one young.  The cranes are noted for their bugling call but we were not lucky enough to hear it.  I did see them fly and their long necks are held out straight, making their identity unmistakeable.

Sandhill Cranes, Fredericton, October, 2016
Shown above is the actual group that visited here.  Note the two adults and one juvenile.  The juvenile has brown on its head, no red patch, a lighter coloured bill and amber eyes.  It would be interesting to know exactly where these birds came from and where they will spend the winter.  I hope they come back again next year.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Cranes are noted for their elaborate courtship displays.  Cranes often preen with pieces of vegetation and mud stained with iron oxide resulting in a reddish brown colour over their normally gray feathers.  

There is an interesting archaeological fact about these cranes.  A crane fossil was found in Nebraska that was 10 million years old.  It was identical to the modern Sandhill Crane.  That makes it the oldest known bird species still surviving!

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