Monday, September 30, 2013
Sandhill Cranes in the Epic Oak Grove
This pair of sandhill cranes has been gleaning the acorn harvest in the Epic Systems oak grove in Verona recently. They wander contentedly with their heads to the ground, pecking and foraging in the grass, stopping now and then to groom their feathers. Usually one keeps a watchful eye on their surroundings while the other feeds, though sometimes they both have their heads down. Occasionally both look up and look around carefully. Their wariness has served them well. Sandhills have many predators but are also the oldest living birds. They go back at least 9 million years in their current form, and close relatives existed 60 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. They were here long before we were.
I love watching them and their graceful beauty. The best moment came a few days ago and was unphotographable because of the background vegetation. The two cranes, which had been slowly grazing side by side, stood up and turned to face each other. They seemed to be looking directly into each other's eyes. Their heads moved a bit closer and their beaks touched. It was like a kiss. I could only think as I watched them, "They're in love!" These magnificent creatures bond for life, and one couldn't help but feel how devoted to each other they are.