" Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are the stars. The Wind, in it's greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours."
Last Thursday, thousands of Sandhill Cranes descended on our county, so we paid a visit to nearby agricultural lands where they stage/rest each spring and fall season. While viewing several large flocks of Sandhills, we spotted a very large and white Crane from a distance. Could it be what it appeared to be? A Whooping Crane in the wild not far from our home? YES! (insert a happy dance here)
The Whooper was very skittish and always hung out in the back of the group, which was easily 300 yards out from the dirt road. Although many of the smaller sandhills tolerated the bird, it was continually attacked- it never made any defensive moves, except to fly to another area of the cornfield. It was obviously quite healthy, despite being somewhat of an outcast. We viewed captives in Baraboo Wisconsin 2 years ago, which was an awesome experience- but viewing one in the wild gave me huge goosebumps. I've long had a fondness for cranes and have been a supporter of Operation Migration and the ICF for quite a few years.
From the images of leg bands I was able to capture, various officials from the International Crane Foundation and USFS have identified this crane is 'Whooping crane #744'- a yearling female and one of the direct autumn release birds that had a less than successful migration last fall- she was also unable to find her way back to central Wisconsin this past spring.
I'm hoping to receive updated sightings on #744 and that she fairs well in her journey. Long may the 'Birds of Heaven' fly.