ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"Own a Chunk of Gold"
Sandhill Cranes are not common in our area, but they do pass through, and so it is a bird to watch for. A Crane is often mistaken for a common Great Blue Heron, but there is a difference. The Sandhill Crane is ash gray all over except that the head has a red cap. The Crane’s neck is shorter and so it walks slowly with a strolling gait and picks up food, with a shorter beak, from the ground. When in flight, there is a distinct difference . . . the Sandhill Crane flies with its neck extended while the Heron flies with its great long neck in a ‘Z’ shape. The large Sandhill Crane has a wing span of 77 inches and weighs 10.6 pounds. That is a lot of ‘bird’ to go flying, but fly they do. They migrate as far as Mexico to northern Canada and back. Some Sandhills spend the summer in northern Utah. If you are able to view them, you could see them perform an elaborate courtship ritual dancing display (a reason to search them out).
Don’t rule out not seeing a Sandhill Crane. If you do, it will be something to remember again and again, like the time I saw three Cranes just standing in an open field in Washington. They were so large that I felt like I was seeing gray cattle with feathers. What a difference seeing them up close and seeing them flying overhead in the hundreds like we saw in Yellowstone National Park . The saying is true . . . "When things are common you fail to recognize what’s before you, and when things are rare they are like owning a chunk of gold."
Look for those chunks of gold. Birds are all around us. Birds are one of the creatures that make our world so special.
If you would like to talk about birds, or have questions about Red Cliffs Audubon upcoming Monthly Meetings and Field Trips, call 435 673-0996. Public is welcome. Marilyn Davis is this week’s artist.
- Red Cliffs Audubon