Sandhill Cranes 2015–Gathering in anticipation of a mid-September migration
Mid-August now– the Lesser Sandhill Cranes have migrational unrest and are gathering together. Families with colts are also joining the flocks. With several groups landing, there were 63 total on Inspiration Ridge Preserve. A coyote showed up but soon left. A bit later in the evening, some raucous squabbling broke out with lots of jumps, jabs, rakes, and calling. Quite the show, especially the rarely seen Pushkie Dance!
Sandhill Crane Fuzzballs
Sandhill Cranes nest in Homer Alaska in surrounding wildlands, local neighborhoods, and coastal estuaries. Two good places to look for a nesting pair are Lighthouse Village and Beluga Slough from the Boardwalk below the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. After 30 days of incubation, the eggs hatch the first or second week of June. They remain fuzzballs for only about a week to 10 days. They grow up quickly and will be as big as an adult and flying by 60-70 days after hatching.
A Fledge for Freedom
Raising a family of one or two colts is filled with challenges, from bad weather to plentiful predators. Following hatching, the adults nurture their young, feeding and protecting them until they are strong enough to fly the 2400 mile journey to their wintering grounds in California. Find out more about these challenges and enjoy a peek at a colt’s intensive flight training.
Raising Kid Colt
Published in 2012, Kachemak Crane Watch’s 35-minute video, “Raising Kid Colt,” was filmed over a span of two summers by amateur videographer, Nina Faust, who was able to capture the intimate details of the lives of two Sandhill Cranes. The cranes learned to trust their neighbors, Nina and Kachemak Crane Watch co-founder, Edgar Bailey, as well as their seven pet geese and two pet alpacas. During the summer of 2010, the crane pair investigated the lands on “Inspiration Ridge Preserve” near their house, identifying food sources, roosting sites, and a nesting area.
In spring of 2011 the two Sandhill Cranes returned, and in early May, before the snow was even gone, they laid their two eggs on an island nest in one of the Preserve’s ponds. Because of the rapport established with the cranes the summer before, Nina was able to get remarkable footage of the family’s daily life over the whole summer until the family migrated with the other local Homer cranes. “Raising Kid Colt” provides viewers with seldom seen perspectives of raising crane colts, as well as a progression of colt development over the summer. The video was shot with a Canon Vixia HD 30 mini-dvd video camera.
Off to California! Homer, Alaska’s 2011 Sandhill Crane Migration
Homer, Alaska’s 2011 Sandhill Crane Migration was a staggered affair this year, with one flock of about 40 leaving on September 9 and another 88 leaving on September 17. Kachemak Crane Watch also had another report of about 30 leaving from out East End Road on September 11. The cranes usually leave about mid-morning in fair weather with a westerly wind.
Click ‘Playlist’ for a complete listing of Kachemak Crane Watch Sandhill Crane videos: