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Sand Hill Cranes Sighted Over Wakarusa Valley
A recent Lawrence Journal World article about the Baker Wetlands said the following:
Last week, Boyd said the site caused a stir among local bird watchers when a flock of sandhill cranes landed at the lake, a bird that is typically spotted in Douglas County about once a decade.
We happened to be working outside when the flock of cranes flew over. We live near the Clinton Lake marsh/wetlands, so flocks of birds riding the valley currents overhead are not unusual. Click here for the sound that caught our attention.
It was a large flock. This overly enlarged thus fuzzy picture shows just a few.
The Nebraska Game and Parks writes this movement is called a "kettle."
At midday when the sun is shining, look for soaring "kettles" of cranes over the river valley. These groups appear as wisps of smoke from a distance. The birds are testing the thermals and keeping their flight muscles toned for the journey, that lies ahead. Cranes are diurnal or daytime migrants and use thermals to their advantage. They will ride the thermal higher and higher up to an altitude of a couple of thousand feet, then they will glide northward in wavering lines losing altitude as they go until they reach the next thermal, spiraling upwards to repeat the process. This method of migration is energy efficient, more so than the power-flapping flight of other species such as geese. On a good day, cranes can travel up to 500 miles although 200 to 300 miles is more typical. In the late afternoon, they seek a wetland of some type to roost for the night and depart the next morning weather permitting, until they reach their destination.
One year we hope to see the cranes up close in Nebraska's Sand Hills. Anyone made the trip?