Sandhill Crane -Grus Canadensis
June 29, 2008
Several weeks ago, Jay and I joined our friends Tom and Elizabeth from Milwaukee on a little road trip up to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI. I first learned of the foundation through yet another Peter Matthiessen book, The Birds of Heaven. They are a breeding and conservation organization for all species of cranes, and amongst other things, are on the forefront of bringing back the Whooping Crane from the brink of extinction. When we made our visit, it was breeding season, and the cranes were, uh, a bit surly and defensive. The ample amount of space between the path and their outdoor pens, was quite necessary and welcome. One species in particular, upon seeing us, ran with feathers fluffed out towards the fence. It growled and proceeded to rattle it's beak on the fence. Didn't think birds could growl? Think again. Despite all of the aggressive avian posturing, and the absurd amount of ticks, it was well worth the visit.
Cranes, like ravens, figure into the mythologies of many different cultures. Aldo Leopold spoke eloquently of them in the Sand County Almanac. When I go hiking north near the Wisconsin border, I savor their rattling call across the prairie and farm fields. Five years ago Jay and I made the drive out to central Nebraska to witness one of nature's greatest spectacles: the migration stop of millions of Sandhill cranes along the Platte river on their way north to Canada, Alaska and even Siberia. In any regard, it was high time that I made an image of one. This is a five color screen-print and it is available, along with two other screen-prints in the Etsy Shop: Snow Leopard and Darwin's Finches.