During their annual migration from Alaska, Canada, and Asia, this majestic grey bird with a red capped head can be seen (and heard) overhead in The Parklands. Their distinct, loud, trumpeting call can be heard from over 2.5 miles away. On their way to wintering grounds in the Southern U.S. and Mexico, flocks of Sandhill Cranes can be seen in numbers upwards of 100 creating an unparalleled natural chorus.
The call of the Sandhill Crane (heard below) is a product of their anatomy. They have large tracheas that coil into their sternum helping to produce a low pitch sound. When calling in unison the sound can drown out event the loudest of street noise.
Sandhill Cranes breed in open wetland habitats in far Northern latitudes. Mating for life, they build their nests on the ground using cattails, grasses, and sedges. They prefer to build their nests in areas of vegetation, growing in standing water for protection against predators like coyote, fox, raccoons, owls, and eagles. To protect against aerial predators, cranes leap into the air kicking their long legs forward, inspiring dance moves and karate kicks. Their diet consists mostly of seeds and berries, but can include small vertebrate and invertebrate species.
A favorite rest area of Sandhill Cranes during their annual migration is an 80-mile stretch of the South Platte river in Nebraska. Upwards of 600,000 Sandhill Cranes can be spotted here at a time (almost 80% of the global population) making this one of Planet Earth’s greatest migrations.
So what’s all this ruckus about? A flock was spotted overhead in Turkey Run and Broad Run Parks on December 9, 2016. So the next time you are hiking or biking in The Parklands this winter make sure to listen and look up, you won’t believe your ears.
Photo by Rick Greenspun
Curtis, hired as Education Coordinator in March 2015, previously served as an Interpretive Ranger for the Parklands. As Education Coordinator, Curtis oversees programming and staffing for The Parklands Outdoor Classroom, based in the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation. A native of Louisville and a graduate of Ballard High School, Curtis returns to Louisville after having worked as an environmental educator in Maine and Colorado at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Curtis also served as Membership Manager at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Curtis enjoys hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.
Being a donor-supported public park means we rely on donations, not tax dollars, for annual operations each year. Because of your generosity, we are able to maintain, program, and further develop this extraordinary public space without charging an entry fee. Together we work to enhance quality of life and help our community and economy grow in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable for people of all ages. Help us reach our goal of sustaining The Parklands by becoming a Member today. Members make it happen!
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