Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sandhill Cranes in the Bend

Sandhill Cranes (Gurs canadensis) are back in the Bend this winter.  The Bend is the community roughly bordered by Four Holes Swamp to the north and east and I-26 from the northwest to southeast.

The Bend
Specifically, the cranes are often seen in the large field bordered by Second Bend Road and Two Churches Road.  Although range maps do not show the bird as a winter resident for our area, we have spotted Sandhill Cranes in that field over the years.  During the 2011 Christmas Bird Count (CBC), 15 Sandhill Cranes were seen and 79 were observed during the 2012 CBC.  In February 2011, we photographed 20 cranes in the field and saw 17 and 24 on consecutive mornings this past weekend.  We did not have time to stop for a photograph this weekend, so the image below is from February 2011.  However, an image taken this weekend would have appeared identical.

Sandhill Cranes in Henbit - Mark Musselman
Mornings are a better time to observe the cranes at the location marked in the image.  We have never observed cranes in this field late in the day.  Lex Glover, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, suspects that the cranes we are seeing are a small foraging flock from the large contingent Sandhill Cranes wintering at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge north of Lake Marion.  The birds feed mainly on grains and seeds along with some insects.  Therefore, once the fields get plowed in preparation for spring planting, the cranes will be gone from the area until next winter.

No comments: