Last weekend I was at a horsemanship clinic when I heard a familiar sound. I pointed up and said, “Listen!” The ten-year-old girl who was in my group asked me what in the world that was. I said it was the sandhill cranes migrating north. It made my day to see how excited she was about it. She promised to keep her ears open this year and from now on.
The sandhill crane, Antigone canadensis, comes by twice a year, heading up north and heading back south. They aren’t endangered or anything, but they are endearing to me. I can remember when my children were small, I’d hear them from inside my car, pull over, and make my sons watch them flying over, clacking and honking as hard as they could. That was in Williamson County.
Of course, they fly over Milam County as well. Friends report that they touch down in some of our larger lakes, like over by the old Alcoa property, to rest as they go by. They’ve never stopped by our little ponds, but sometimes they are close enough to see the colors on their heads with binoculars.
I ran outside today when I heard them from inside my house, and got a recording and took a few photos. They aren’t great, but that’s okay. I like to document when different birds migrate through each year to see how it differs. Last year they were a little later than this year. Hey, I’m a naturalist.
I’m glad I got the recording, so my iNat identification will be easier. Since I was on my property, I can’t get any credit for the observations, but so what? I got the thrill of listening to my favorite signs of spring as they head up to get some nice fresh food. Learning to observe the rhythms of nature is one of the best things about our training.