Monday, October 5, 2009

Ann Arbor, Michigan...Hockey…and Sandhill Cranes!

Spotting Sandhill Cranes on the way to the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon Sanctuary
Sandhill Cranes are endangered in Ohio, but just an hour or so north of the Ohio/Michigan border and only four hours north of Cincinnati, you can find the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sandhill Crane Sanctuary, a migration staging area for Sandhill Cranes. During the summer, between five and seven pairs nest at the sanctuary, but fall migration is when Haehnle really comes to life. At the peak of migration (end of October and the beginning of November) up to 2000 Sandhill Cranes will spill into the safe shelter of the sanctuary every evening to roost for the night. While we were there (October 3), between 150-200 cranes were expected to arrive that evening.

On the way to the sanctuary, Rick spotted this family
of Sandhill Cranes as I was driving down a beautiful
country road. I immediately did a U-turn, parked on
the side of the road and grabbed my camera. I was
pretty far away, but by cropping the images, you
can see their beautiful red "polls." (Click to enlarge.)

Juveniles do not have the red caps on their heads.
The bird in the middle is the baby of this family!

You can get an idea of their size by seeing them in
front of the corn. These are Greater Sandhill Cranes,
which stand 4 feet tall and have a wingspan of 6 feet.

Seeing these birds for the first time was spectacular.
I am now a huge Sandhill Crane fan and will be
reading up on them. I can't wait until I can return
to the sanctuary. There will be more to come
on the sanctuary in a day or so...

This weekend...
Friday at noon, Rick, Matty and I left for Ann Arbor, Michigan. Matty was in a Big Bear Hockey Tournament, and I planned on slipping out between games to visit the local birding hotspots. A Cincy birding friend recommended I contact Allan, “The Michigan Hummingbird Guy,” and his other friend, Greg, so I did. Allen told me about The Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary and Greg recommended the Nichols Arboretum on the University of Michigan's campus. (I just love the birding friend network! Wherever you go, usually someone knows someone who can set you straight! Thanks guys...I loved birding in Michigan and can't wait to return!) I also found the Waterloo Recreation Area all by myself (which isn’t hard to do…the park is over 20,000 acres!). I will be posting on these locations over the next few days. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up too. I’ve fallen way behind. I didn’t get to do any writing or visiting other blogs while in Michigan. I did get to visit another blogging friend, however…and I’ll post on that later as well!

Beak Bit
From the Michigan Audubon Society's pamphlet on Sandhill Cranes at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary:
"Sandhill Cranes are living dinosaurs! Sandhill Cranes hold the record as the oldest living bird species. A fossil wing bone of a Sandhill was found in the Nebraskan deposit dating back 9 million years. Fossils from other members of the Order cranes belong to, Gruiformes, date back some 60 million years at a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth."


44 comments:

TonyC said...

Hi Kelly, I only just found your blog - great posts - I'll put in a link from my blog. I love cranes too, though don't see them very regularly in South Australia. Keep up the good work!!

Kelly said...

Hi Tony--thank you! I'll be sure to pop over to your blog. I love seeing all the Australian wildlife!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kel, I wondered where you were... Am glad you got to see those beautiful cranes. WOW--aren't they gorgeous????

The blogging world is just wonderful. We all meet so many wonderful people.

Hugs,
Betsy

Roy said...

Cool! We don't get Cranes around here, just their cousins, Egrets and Herons. And I sympathize with those far-off shots that require radical cropping; I got some of a Great Blue Heron in the middle of a field (!) Sunday that no amount of fiddling could clean up. Just too far out of range.

Kelly said...

Hi Betsy! I know....I feel like I'm out of touch. I haven't been around to visit anyone's blog....I'm working on it!

Hi Roy......all I really need is a that 400mm or maybe better yet...the 600mm lens and I wouldn't have that problem anymore. Same for you? :-D

John said...

Hi Kelly,

The Sabdhill Cranes are are just wonderful, so elegant. We get Common Cranes over here mainly in Norfolk on the East Coast of the UK but still get a huge thrill whenever I get to see them.
Kelly if you are interested in Cranes I can recommend a book by Peter Mattiessen called 'The Birds of Heaven'

John

Kelly said...

...thanks, John...I'll look into it!!

holdingmoments said...

Lovely shots as always Kelly. Those red 'polls' are quite striking.
Good to see you back posting; was wondering where you were. Gathering more posts by the sound of it. Look forward to them.

Kelly said...

Hi Keith! Thanks....I have so many backlogged. I don't know when I'll get through everything. I have backlogs going all the way back to July!! I take too many photos of interesting things....and I'm always moving on to the next sighting... :-D

Elaine said...

Nice shots! I'm glad you got to see some sandhill cranes! I'm at Mona's and we saw some in flight yesterday evening here in Montana. Not near as close as I did in Fairbanks but fun to see them again on their way south.

Midmarsh John said...

Great photos of an interesting bird. Interesting the way some species have just one small area which is brilliantly coloured.

Roy said...

Amazing birds Kelly and great photos. With the colours, especially the red head they look like tall elongated versions of our Green Woodpecker.

Jayne said...

What magnificent birds! Lucky you to see them. :c)

Dave Lewis said...

Love those Cranes!
There had been a pair nesting unsuccessfully close to us for the past few years. One of these days ...

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Wow these cranes are wonderful. We got the common crane here for few days... Well three of them in spring and I kind of hope that some will pass by during the winter migration again, so that I can get my 87!! The shots are beautiful and you are truly giving us beautiful pictures on your blog.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Great shots. I had no idea that crane sanctuary existed so close to home—plus I have relatives in the area I could visit.

I do often see sandhills when I'm in the U.P., especially around the Kingston Plains area north of Seney.

A couple of years ago, in early December, I saw a single lone sandhill in a field adjacent to I-70, just west of Richmond, Indiana. Actually, the bird was standing just beyond the freeway fence, and I was able to slow down enough for a good look. That seemed way late in the year for a migrating crane.

Busy Bee Suz said...

They are so pretty and BIG!!!
Sounds like a perfect weekend for the whole family.
Take care, Suz

Kerri said...

Sounds like a wonderful time! I have never seen a Sandhill Crane before and I did NOT know they were the oldest living bird species! WOW!

JeniQ said...

Great pictures of the magnificent birds Kelly. Having grown up near Lake Huron I saw many of the crane family. The Sandhills are very pretty.

Tina said...

Love your pictures of those sandhills..we had the pleasure this summer of visiting Wisconsin and the International Crane Foundation..it was wonderful and we did get to see wild sandhills..strolling around people's yards as we drove the back roads. A very neat site, indeed!!
Great post!!

ShySongbird said...

The first thing that struck me was the red 'polls', these are lovely creatures.

'Backlogs! hmmm....the way I am going I will be posting butterflies in Winter! Ah well it will brighten up the gloom I suppose ;)

Noticing your reply to Roy, I have a 500mm lens but find the snag is its weight, consequently so far, I have never taken it out with me so still rely on cropping!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Wonderful pictures as usual Kelly. They are such a fascinating bird to look at.
I spotted a crane at Lake Logan but it was flying over so I did not get a good look at what kind it was.

Tabib said...

I have seen crane only in the zoo, and that 'big steel cranes' in construction work.
Your croped pictures are great.
In bird photography no amount of mm are enough.

Uncommon Depth said...

No wonder I always think of Pterodactyls when the Sandhills fly over head! These birds are so much more approachable when they are migrating than when they are on the nesting grounds here.

Heather said...

I'm looking forward to more posts about the Sandhill Cranes. Sounds like you had a marvelous time. Did you actually meet Alan while you were up in Michigan? He's the bander who was in our neck of the woods this summer (at Lake Hope) doing hummingbird banding... except the silly birds did not want to be banded and none showed up! He's a super nice guy.

Susan Ellis said...

There are some that stop at the Meath Hill area just outside of Pembroke, Ontario...absolutely thrilling to see them! Great photos Kelly.

Connie said...

How COOL is that!! I occasionly see a Blue Heron, I think. You sure do get to photograph some interesting wildlife.

Shelley said...

Kelly - I wish I had known you were going to be in Michigan! Ann Arbor is only 30 minutes from our downstate home! Loved seeing these crane photos - they are such fun birds to watch!

Warren Baker said...

Beautiful birds Kelly. I once watched a tv programme about these birds. They were being habd reared and taught to migrate!!

Moria said...

Wow, great post. The Sandhill Crane Sanctuary sounds very nice. If I'm ever up in that area I will definitely visit. Thanks!

Laure Ferlita said...

When you come down in February, we'll have to go birding - we have a wonderful population of cranes here! We are also very fortunate to see the "colts" when they are very young and downy and the color of caramel - and two feet tall already!

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

These are beautiful photos. I have never seen one in person so it would be a thrill indeed.

Ginnymo said...

I think those Cranes are so neat Kelly!! Beautiful photos!!

Tammie Lee said...

your crane images are wonderful! We have a family that returns to our meadow every summer. we know when they arrive, there calls sure do sound prehistoric! I love having them around. When folks tell me of seeing hundreds or thousands of them, well I just can not imagine. So glad you had a wonderful time away.

Larry said...

Sandhill Cranes are one of my favorites Kelly! You have some great shots of them there. I really like the last shot of the adults in the lead and the juvenile following.

Brigitte and I went down to the Cosumnes River Preserve (about 30 miles south of Sacramento) last winter to see the cranes. My favorite thing is to hear those beautiful, ancient Sandhill Crane calls. Once you here that call, you will never forget them.

They have a big Sandhill Crane Festival in Lodi California, about 45 miles south of Sacramento every year. This year it is November 6 - 8. Lots of different birding activities and photography classes too!

Nature As Is said...

Wow these cranes are fabulous!! Love the red tops to their heads very interesting.

Sue said...

Kelly, I never knew about this sanctuary. Will definately have to check it out next year.
Looks like you had a pretty good viewing of them.

Montanagirl said...

Absolutely wonderful photos, Kelly. The Cranes are so awesome.

madahmas said...

Lovely looking birds. They have the same stature as egrets and herons that I see frequently..

Kelly said...

...that was the first time I ever saw a Sandhill Crane in the wild. They are just spectacular. Sounds like we all feel the same.

Scribe...I read that sometimes they do stick around until mid-December, even at Haehnle. Most take off by mid-November I guess. It was so surprising to look out in the field and see them...you must have felt the same (especially since it was Dec).

yen said...

Hi Kelly,

The photos didn't turn out to be be shabby despite the distant.

Mary said...

Beautiful birds! I'm glad you got to see some while you were there.

dAwN said...

Howdee Kelly..
So glad you saw the cranes in the wild as well as your wonderful post above!

Kelly said...

Yen...thank you!

Mary...thank you....me too. Seeing them with your own eyes in the wild makes such a difference.

dAwN...thank you! Love your new photo!