Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sandhill Crane

On Sunday, 26 June 2016, Erika and I bicycled the Cannon Valley Trail in nearby Goodhue County. Near mile-post 17, we spied two young Sandhill Cranes. Previously at the same location, we heard adults calling, so we assume these two are locally hatched birds. Sandhill Cranes normally hatch two eggs. Wild cranes live for over 35 years. First breeding takes place when the birds are two to eight years old. Only 0.3 percent of the young survive to adulthood. All of these factors make crane conservation difficult (Gerber 2014). Yet crane numbers are increasing in our part of Minnesota.

Sandhill Cranes are opportunistic, omnivorous foragers, feeding both on dry land and in aquatic habitats. They eat plants, grains, small vertebrates and invertebrates. I photographed one of the two young as it fed. I was surprised as the crane plunged its head entirely under water. Presumably it held its breath as it did so.

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