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Birds of the Western Slope April 4, 2018

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Photo by Bill Schmoker Sandhill crane at the Bosque.

A Precious Moment

There are about 10 cranes along the northeast pond. Just standing there. No movement. Gray shapes. If I hadn't been watching, I'd have missed them. It never ceases to amaze me how quiet they can be.

But there is crane sound behind me. I look upward and there they are ... about four birds. But there's more crane sound. And the birds on the ground begin calling. The ones coming down answer them and suddenly the world is filled with crane sound. And there are another 10 or so cranes, all calling ... coming down from the east.

The ones from on high continue their descent. The wing tips cup and they paraglide. The necks remain erect but the tail-ends drop. Landing gears are down and now the heads and necks come downward too. They're almost on the ground. And I think, "I've never seen a crane injure itself in the landing." Remarkable! I figure that it must happen, but I've never seen it.

Now all of the cranes are down. They begin to walk around, still chattering. And I know that I've had a precious moment. I sit still and watch the birds. I'm thrilled that I can see them, and have some understanding of them. They become quiet. I start the motor, put the car in gear and the birds remain still. How privi-leged am I!

I drive on across the causeway to turn around at the convenient spot at Rowley's place. I turn back onto the causeway and begin my journey home. Of course, I stop at the Audubon sign to look at the cranes again. A car comes roaring by. I'd bet that he/they didn't see the birds at all. What a pity!

I look at the birds. They are all silent now. Not a sound. But I can count a good 40 or so and there are more red crowns in the cattails.

Apparently our count is now close to 10,000 as of March 29 and we can expect 1⁄2 to 3/4 of the 20,000 flock to pass through.

Read more from:
Surface Creek
Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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