Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sandhill Crane

Driving through Rice County, Minnesota, soybean fields on Sunday, 8 July 2012, Erika spotted a family of four Sandhill Cranes. Since soybeans do not fruit until August, these cranes were probably farmer-friendly, consuming insects among the soy plants. The status of these majestic birds appears to be changing.  Once considered uncommon and local in our area, Sandhill Cranes are increasingly reported as breeding in Rice and surrounding counties. Apparently the cranes are adapting so as to coexist with human-altered habitats.

Sandhill Cranes do not breed until they are at least two years old and can live to over 20 years. Pairs are monogamous and stay together for more than one breeding season. They lay two-egg clutches but, unlike the birds Erika discovered, they rarely raise more than one young to fledging (Tacha et al. 1992).

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