Saturday, January 28, 2012

The tale of Crossbill continues…

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.  Or maybe, life in the natural world rivals manmade soap operas.  Take the saga of Crossbill for instance.  She is a 10-12 year old female Mississippi sandhill crane with a disability; her bill is malformed.  For ten years, she had no mate.  She spent her time traveling around with a normal pair of sandhills.  It was thought that because of her crossed bill, she couldn’t find a mate.  Then, a little over a year ago, the female of that pair died.  Can you guess what happened?  Suddenly she looked pretty good to that four year old lonesome male crane.  Last spring, they became a pair even though he was much her junior.  (I’ve heard that young men have more stamina!) 

They built a nest, but I don’t think they successfully raised any young last year.  In a stellar year, only four wild born cranes make it in this endangered population, so this was not surprising.  However, these cranes do mate for life, so they’ll try again this year. 

Fast forward to early this morning when JERRY and Wanda joined me for the Saturday crane tour.  It turned out that between those that had signed up for the tour, and two people that just showed up, we had to take two vehicles for the tour.  A young college student and her mother joined the three of us in our vehicle.  If the young lady could get a picture of a Mississippi sandhill crane, she would get an A on her assignment for her biology course.  Alrighty then, there’s the challenge!


We hit pay dirt as we drove past the crane company on route 57.  For two years I’ve hoped to get a picture of the sandhill cranes at the crane company. It seems only fitting.Open-mouthed smile


Using my 300mm lens, I was able to get a shot of the pair showing their leg bands, and the transmitter on the back bird.  I’ll report that to the biologists next week.  That’s red over orange on the right leg, and green on the left leg of the front bird, for instance.  That’s enough to identify this pair.

_MG_5926 _MG_5928

Generally, one bird stands guard as the other member of the pair feeds.  They switch off with each other.  Once I looked at the pictures when I got back home, I noticed something a little unusual.


Sure enough.  It’s Crossbill!  This is not the usual haunts that she and her mate are seen in, but I’m happy that her saga will continue.


We continued on our way with the tour, and ended up seeing a total of 19 Mississippi sandhill cranes, and watched four adult cranes chasing off six youngster cranes from their feeding territory.  What a cacophony of sound that was along with  the aerial dynamics.  We also enjoyed watching this adult red-tailed hawk.  It was a successful tour in many ways.  I was happy to touch base with Crossbill again, and I think a young college student is going to get an A in her biology course.  Those are a few of the reasons that I do what I do.


                                                                               THE END!

(if you look closely, you will see a white projectile being sent toward us demonstrating what this hawk thought of our observance of him/her. Smile with tongue out)

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy