The pair dancing is mostly over and the breeding season has begun for Sandhill Cranes. Some have laid eggs and are tending their nests.
My brother Mark, who lives in the Battle Creek area, sent me this exquisite image he took of a Sandhill Crane on a nest. During the day, both parents incubate the nest, which contains two buff or olive eggs. The incubation period lasts about a month.
Mark’s success sent me back to farm country to learn what I could about the local Sandhill Crane breeding process. Being a few hours north, I hoped to still see some pair-bond dancing. But, instead, I saw the same lone crane feeding in the field where I typically see two birds.
Not being sure if this was a male or female, I wondered whether there was already a nest built and eggs being tended by the other mate. Typically, cranes build their nests near water and that’s where I began looking for a nesting crane.
Right behind where the solo crane was feeding is a small wetland. Cranes like areas with vegetation growing in standing water and this little marsh fit the bill, I thought. But, as I watched quietly from my car for several minutes, I saw no movement or nesting crane.
Across the road from the first bog is another wetland, one where I’ve seen nesting geese and beavers building dams. Again, there were no crane nests there either. I moved on and went around a couple blocks seeing what else was out there. Lots of hawks in the area again.
I returned to the solo crane and it’d moved to the other side of the field near the geese pond I’d photographed last week. It was bugling loudly. Kar-r-r-r-o-o-o. Kar-r-r-r-o-o-o. I wondered whether it was squawking because I was getting too close to the nest.
Somewhere in this vast field of woods, corn dregs, and watery bogs, there had to be a crane nesting. Or so I hoped. I’ll just have to wait for nature to reveal itself.