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Monday, February 20, 2012

S ~ Sandhill Crane

Grus canadensis

Sandhill Cranes are found in many areas of eastern Washington, and in small numbers during migration and Winter in western Washington.  This picture was taken up on the Uptanum, just south from the lonely cabin in my Kittitas post.  I surprised these two birds and they were most unexpected in this location.

Further east, in the town of Othello, the cranes are welcomed each Spring during their migration.  It is a time when this town is able to showcase the rich ecology and habitat of pothole lakes and meadowed grasslands which these birds favor.  To see thousands of these large, impressive birds coming in to night roost is an experience never forgotten.  You heard their loud trumpeting, rolling calls before you see them.  They have a wing span of up to 7 feet and when there are hundreds passing over in effortless flight you are reminded of their dinosaur ancestry.

Pairs bond strongly and cranes all over the world are known for their dancing courtship displays.  Pairs and their young may remain in the family group for up to 10 months. 


  1. Great shot - didn't know they could be found in eastern Washington., Will have to make an effort to see them. My sister and her family go to see them every year at a reserve in Illinois. My brother-in-law pointed them out to the guy he was working with, and the guy informed him (seriously) that he had thought they were the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.

  2. That is exactly right. When you see (and hear) a large flock flying down one of the coulees in Eastern WA it will remind you of the Wizard of Oz

    Othello has a Sandhill Crane Festival every Spring.