Though sandhill cranes are plentiful in our area, I’ve had a difficult time getting a good photo of any. They are particularly shy and head for the hills whenever I attempt to get close enough for a decent photo. I spotted this one out my back window one morning as I was preparing to go to work. I could only see its head and upper body because it was behind the mound of grass it eventually rested on, as seen here.
When I first saw it, it was bobbing its head and hopping around with a flutter of its wings. It’s early spring so I thought it was some kind of mating dance going on. Of course, I ran for my camera. When I returned, it had made its way up the mound and I could see that its bob, hop and flutter was the result of some kind of painful leg injury. It was limping on it’s right leg and the herky-jerky motions, as it hobbled, to take some of the weight of its leg. After limping to this spot, at the top of the mound, its long legs buckled and it plopped into this position where it remained for several minutes. I closely looked at some of the other photos I took, while it was standing, and I didn’t notice any malady with the right leg other than the joint seemed to be larger.
When it eventually got back on its feet, it limped around a little until it reached down and ate a huge night crawler it found in the grass. A few moments later, another sandhill crane flew in and landed nearby and this one took to the air, flying off across the farm field and beyond the woods.
As I mentioned, these birds are shy – at least all the ones I’ve encountered. I was only able to get this image by shooting out the not-so-clean window of my garage. Even then, I was keeping myself hidden as much as I could; shooting at the edge of the window frame. I’m sure, if I would have attempted to get outside for a better vantage point, the bird would have been off at the slightest sound of the door opening.
I also got a few photos of the second sandhill crane that came just before this one flew away. I’ll post it sometime in the near future.
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