Each year, sandhill cranes in the eastern population of sandhill cranes migrate thru and winter in Kentucky. Extreme cold this winter has forced the cranes to stay south longer than normal. Once the weather broke a little this week, it meant large numbers of cranes were on the move.
Sandhill cranes require bodies of shallow water in which to roost. This shallow water allows them to be away from predators at night. One of those spots where shallow water is available in Kentucky is the farmlands around Cecilia, Kentucky in Hardin County. Each year during northward migration in February, thousands of cranes will concentrate here for a few weeks. The previous high count for Cecilia, Kentucky was a little over 8,000 cranes. This year, more than 22,000 cranes were counted this week. This meant approximately 1/4 of the eastern population was in Cecilia on one day.
These are a few images from that day. The sights and sounds of that many cranes was spectacular.
After helping the crew at Yellowbank WMA band a couple times, I went west to help the staff at the Ballard Wildlife Management Area band ducks for a couple days. The Ballard staff are expert banders and it is a great experience for me to spend a little time with them. Ballard is a very far west in the range of American black ducks so we generally don’t expect to catch many. This year, blacks were present and we managed to band more than expected. After struggling to meet a state quota of 5o black ducks over the last couple years, we caught more than 140 this season. Banding is complete for 2014…may we continue to have great years like this!
This winter has been one of seemingly endless cold and snow. There was a bit of ice while I was away at the EMU meeting. Fortunately for me, it hung in there until I could return and photograph a few birds with the ice. The addition of some snow made for a great backdrop.