Archive for Storks and Cranes

Sandhill Crane 2/7/18

There are 15 crane species worldwide but only 2 in North America—the Whooping Crane and the Sandhill Crane. Something very interesting is going on with the latter. Since 1967 they began showing up in eastern states where they’d never been seen before. A vagrant just showing up somewhere new is hardly unusual, but then these birds would stay for the season, migrate south for the winter, and then surprisingly come back the next season, sometimes with a mate to start breeding. These aren’t vagrants so much as they are pioneers. Pretty soon you get small migrating flocks like we have in Maine now, which started with one bird back in 2001. This bird’s name is Kevin, he arrived in Rollinsford NH earlier in 2017, but for some reason has not migrated south for the winter like northern cranes usually do, instead he’s sticking it out through the winter. Thankfully, Kevin has people looking out for him.

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Sandhill Crane 11/1/10

In the last decade a few Sandhill Cranes have taken up residence in several marshes and bogs in Maine, but they are more commonly found in Canada, Alaska, and the some of the southern and midwestern states. The Maine birds, first reported in 2000, have been breeding successfully and are thought to be an eastern expansion of the midwestern and Ontario populations. These are huge birds, with 6 to 8 foot wingspans, grey bodies (juveniles have a more rusty plumage) with bright red foreheads and white cheeks. At this time of year they have begun migrating south and are occasionally spotted flying overhead or foraging in agricultural fields. The Maine birds are thought to winter in Southern Georgia and Central Florida. Fetched last fall at Maxwell’s Farm, Cape Elizabeth.


Sandhill Crane 10/26/09


What a treat! On the spur of the moment Cheryl and I aimed north this afternoon to see if we could find this Sandhill Crane I’d heard about being sighted in Cape Elizabeth for the last few days. After spotting it in a recently turned over corn field, we were able to sneak close enough for a few good shots before a dogwalker came along and spooked it. Bird of the Day rarely gets any fresher than this! Sandhill Cranes aren’t unheard of in Maine, but aren’t at all your everyday New England bird. They breed in the northern Canadian prairies and tundra and winter in the southernmost parts of the US and northern Mexico.