Wednesday, December 16, 2009
As I stepped outside for my morning run today, I saw and heard a huge flock of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, no doubt headed for the nearby UF Beef Teaching Unit (a grassy pasture in which beef cattle are no doubt being taught to do any number of nefarious things). And I considered how lucky I was to be able to count Sandhill Cranes among my backyard birds.
The Beef Teaching Unit is only about 100 yards from my place, and as I jogged toward it, I saw two large white birds mingling with the Sandhills. Definitely too tall to be White Ibises, which also frequent the pasture. And WAY too big to be Cattle Egrets. Too tall and heavy-bodied to be Great Egrets, which don't hang out there anyhow. Which meant they had to be...
Awesome! I sprinted home, grabbed my bins and camera, and headed back out, hoping they would stay for me. And they did, just long enough for me to get a few blurry shots. As they flew off with their Sandhill Crane companions, I could see their black wing tips and the other sure field mark of a Whooping Crane, several colored bands on their legs.
Now I can rightfully claim not only Sandhill Cranes, but Whooping Cranes, as (practically) backyard birds. How lucky is that?