Sand Hill Cranes

I’ve mentioned Sand Hill Cranes several times in this blog, mostly in reference to their striking calls. I’ve seen them on the wing and hope to photograph them in flight before the year is out. But this afternoon I got a remarkable treat when a pair of them walked right up to me and my car and paraded past without any apparent concern about the photographer snapping away over and over again.


I had driven to the park where I am planning to begin photographing for this blog and I’d been out in the woods with Jamie photographing mostly bark on the remarkable big trees I found there. I had come back to the car–Jamie was off leash as the park is virtually deserted–and I asked Jamie to hop into the car, which he did.

As I was putting my gear in the back of the car, a movement caught my eye. Two sand hill cranes, most likely a mated pair, were stalking through the grass right next to the parking lot. I grabbed my camera and snuck around to the back of the car to start photographing them.


I used the car as cover, but I don’t think they really cared. They continued to walk straight at me without a care in the world. They certainly saw me, but paid me little if any attention. As they got closer, I moved to the front of the car to shoot over the hood and they kept on coming.

In the end, they walked no more than ten feet from me and continued to evidence no concern about me whatsoever. I just shot over and over and over again until they started drifting away and the angle got less desirable.


These are entirely wild birds, but have little fear of humans. This is not a petting zoo and these are not local park residents who see a lot of people. These are migrating birds and have just returned for the year to begin nesting and raising chicks.

Why they are so tame, I don’t know, but this kind of experience is not unusual. I’ve encountered them in different places ranging from front yards to golf courses and they always seem unconcerned about humans. But I have to say that this is the first time I’ve had my camera with me when I saw them. Quite a treat.

Now all I want is to catch them in flight. As you can imagine, standing over four feet tall, they are impressive birds in the air.

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