Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

Have you ever seen a sandhill crane? I hadn't until Sunday morning. In fact, I didn't even know that I should be looking for them until I read Dennis Anderson's column in the Sunday StarTribune newspaper. Apparently, this is the beginning of sandhill crane hunting season. (If you had asked me, I would have thought that they were on the endangered species list and exempt from hunting, but no one asked me, so I guess they're fair game.)

So there I was, rolling  down Decker Avenue on my bike just south of HWY 19 and some movement on the right side of the road caught my eye. Standing in the middle of a hay field were four sandhill cranes. At first I thought they were Canada geese, but then I noticed two telltale signs. First, none of the birds had any black markings (ah, ever seen any geese without black masks?). Second, these birds had legs, I mean, they were off the ground like houses in a flood zone. No geese I've ever seen had legs like these.

When I got home, I dug out my Sibley's and looked up sandhill cranes. The hoods in the illustrations were seriously red and the ones I saw in the flesh were more brown or rust, but the body type and THE LEGS were unmistakeable. What a fortuitous moment! I love those kind of random events. They only last for a few moments and they're totally unpredictable, but they're priceless. You just have to be ready to accept them.

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