Allison's Book Bag

Snapshot Meme: Sandhill Cranes

Posted on: November 8, 2014

Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. As part of my roundup of authors and books featured at the 2014 Plum Creek Literacy Festival, I reviewed two photo-fiction books written about Midwest wildlife by Jeff Kurrus. An obvious supplement to those reviews seemed to be a Snapshot Meme about our local Wildlife Safari Park.

Every time my husband and I visit the Wildlife Safari Park, which is at least once a year, we see new sights. For that reason, the question in preparing this post became: What photos should I share? Even after weeding, I still have dozens of worthy photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor this particular post, I decided to highlight just the sandhill cranes. Have You Seen Mary? is a fictional love story about a crane “couple”, John and Mary. Sandhill cranes mate for life. They have an interesting and distinctive mating call. Both the males and females make a rattling “kar-r-r-r- o-o-o” sound. The call varies in length, strength and loudness depending on its intention. Males and females will sing loudly and in unison. When sandhills form a bond, it can last for years until one of the cranes dies.

The most abundant of the world’s cranes, sandhills are large birds with long and thin necks and legs. Their mostly grayish feathers can sometimes have a reddish-brown appearance due to the cranes preening themselves by rubbing mud on their feathers.  Their forehead has a bright red patch, one of the most noticeable features of the bird.  The cheeks are white.

Sandhill cranes spend most of their lives in open fresh water wetlands, including marshes, wet grasslands and river basins.  The different subspecies can utilize habitats that range from bogs, meadows, and fens to open grasslands, pine savannas, and cultivated lands.

When my husband and I most recently visited the Wildlife Safari Park, we discovered that the Crane Meadows Watching Tower had been installed since our last visit. This tower enabled us to better observe the birds in the Crane Meadow area of the park. In fact, my husband even had an encounter with one extremely curious crane! While he took photos, one crane came up to my husband and started jabbing at him. Being a lover of animals, my husband enjoyed the opportunity to say hello and make a new friend. 😉



Loss and degradation of riverine and wetland ecosystems are the biggest threats to the sandhill cranes. Three subpopulations of them are migratory, spending their winters in the south and their summers at their breeding grounds. In the early spring, they begin the migration to their breeding grounds. Throughout the spring, they rest and feed along rivers and wetlands throughout the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest.

The largest congregation of sandhill cranes occurs from February to early April along the Platte River in Nebraska. Approximately 80% of all sandhill cranes, or over 500,000, utilize a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River in spring migration. Obviously, these staging areas along the Platte River are of special concern.

If you’re interested in experiencing the actual sights and sounds of the migration, you might join fellow bird enthusiasts at Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary in Nebraska. During its annual Crane Festival, you’ll learn more about the cranes, waterfowl, and other bird species by attending informational sessions, visiting a crane viewing blind, and participating in a field trip.

In future memes, I’ll post additional photos of other animals found at the Wildlife Safari Park. One day, I might also get around to digging out photos that my husband and I have taken of crane migrations.

18 Responses to "Snapshot Meme: Sandhill Cranes"

I’ve never seen a crane- they’re definitely on the bird bucket list though. What a great experience you both had.

The Crane Meadows Watching Tower was a real treat!. After I wrap up my posts featuring the Wildlife Safari Park, I might have to email them to thank them for all the innovations at the park. 🙂

We have quite a few “couples” in our area. Two of the couples have been visiting our property for years. A few years ago one couple had a baby crane and it wasn’t eating enough so we called the local refuge center and they picked her up and then brought her back about a month later. I suppose they visit us so much because we have a large pond behind our house.

I’ve seen some of the documentaries about the sandhill and whooping crane migrations. It is amazing to watch. How lucky you are to have witnessed in person.

Aside from the migrations, I think my most amazing animal experience has been attending a wolf howl.

Can’t wait to see what else you saw on your visit.

Definitely there will be wolves! Those are my favorite animals.

The nifty thing though about the Wildlife Safari Park is that it exposes one to a variety of animals. So, expect to see a range of wildlife!

What a fascinating post – I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Sandhill cranes before. Come to that, I don’t really know anything about any cranes. My Snapshot is at

Not being originally from the Midwest, I actually educated myself with this post too. 🙂

Thanks for sharing your photos and info about sandhill cranes. Their congregation on the Platte River must be an amazing sight!
Here are my Saturday Snapshots.

My husband and I have seen both the sandhill and whooping crane migrations. Yes, the sight is INCREDIBLE!

What wonderful shots, and how great to spotlight the books with them. Thanks for sharing….and here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

Maybe there will be future posts where I can combine book reviews again with personal photos. Hmm, now you have me thinking…. 🙂

Thank you for sharing these photos of part of your visit. Your husband is a good sport.

Here’s my Saturday Snapshot!

My husband has also been bitten by a squirrel, an emu, and feral kittens. He still loves animals!

Definitely some wildlife that I won’t see here. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Allisons' Book Bag Logo

Thank You!

Allison’s Book Bag will no longer be updated. Thank you for eight years!

You can continue to follow me at:



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 125 other followers

%d bloggers like this: