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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote: Sandhill Cranes Wait Out the Storm

Air Date: Week of

The sandhill crane is a large crane native to North America. (Photo: Mike Hamilton)

Fall can be full of fruit and flashy foliage, but can also deliver wild winds and severe storms. As Mary McCann notes in this BirdNote, such weather can disrupt migration.



CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: Poet John Keats claims that autumn is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
But in some places, it can also be a season of wild storms – and that can upset migration plans, as Mary McCann explains in today's BirdNote®.

Sandhill Cranes Wait Out the Storm

[Severe wind whips through the antennas of a gillnet boat]

MCCANN: “I used to gill-net salmon in Alaska,” writes BirdNote listener, Misha Noonan.

“At the fall equinox, we’d often get stuck at the far east end of the Copper River Delta, waiting out the storms.

[Continue opening sounds and crashing waves]

Once the storms were so unrelenting, that not only were fishermen unable to return to Cordova, but Sandhill Cranes were unable to proceed with their southeast migration.

[Calls of a large congregation of Sandhill Cranes]

Every morning, a test flight of scouts would lift off and attempt to get around a nearby cape. The birds aloft chattered to the birds in the slough; the birds in the slough answering excitedly. But it wouldn't be long before the tone changed, in my opinion, from one of excitement to one of disappointment as the scouts had to turn back.

The 10th morning broke calm and clear. The scouts lifted off at first light. Everyone was awake – cranes, fishermen, ducks, geese, everyone. The scouts called loudly and excitedly to the flock on the ground. You could imagine what they might have been reporting: “1,000 feet, clear and calm. 2,000 feet, visibility unlimited! 3,000 feet, we're around Kayak Island and outta here!" Soon, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes filled the sky.

[Calls of a large congregation of Sandhill Cranes]

In 20 minutes… they were gone….Silence. The rally of the Sandhill Cranes was over... for another year.”

I’m Mary McCann.

Written by Misha Noonan
Sounds of provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012-2016 Tune In to Nature.org September 2016 Narrator: Mary McCann

CURWOOD: For pictures, migrate on over to our website LOE.org.



Listen on the BirdNote website

Audubon information on sandhill cranes


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