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Sandhill cranes descend on the plains of the US midwest

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  • Sandhill cranes descend on the plains of the US midwest

    Sandhill cranes descend on the plains of the US midwest

    A riverside in Nebraska is a welcome refuelling stop for these elegant birds migrating from Mexico to their breeding grounds

    Dr Nicola Davis

    The Observer, Friday 7 March 2014 06.00 EST

    Cranes gathering together in shallow water on a foggy morning are silhouetted by the yellow sunlight
    Sandhill cranes return to the same stretch of the Platte river each year on their way to breeding grounds as far flung as Siberia. Photograph: Wendy Shattil/Alamy

    Nebraska is all of a flutter. Over the coming month, more than half a million sandhill cranes will descend on the plains of the midwest where they'll take a breather en route to their breeding grounds in the north. Roosting on the Platte river at night, they take to the wing at sunrise and fill their stomachs with grain from the plentiful cornfields before returning to the banks as the sun sets replete with some much-needed calories for the onward journey.

    It's a well-earned break. By the time they touch down in Nebraska, the cranes will have undertaken an epic journey from their wintering grounds in Mexico and the southern states, covering about 200-400 miles a day. And with the breeding grounds of some subspecies as far flung as Hudson Bay and even eastern Siberia, the journey for many is far from over.

    Returning to "stage" along the same stretch of the river each year, the weary travellers are not only sure to find food and a spot to sleep, but also the chance to find a partner for life. With 80% of North America's sandhill cranes congregating along the river, the odds are good for the singletons; by the time the birds head off in early April, many will have found a mate.

    Sporting grey plumage, white cheeks and a jaunty splash of red above their beaks, these handsome birds make for quite a spectacle as they strut their stuff along the river. And joining them are hundreds of enthusiasts who flock to the region every spring, armed with binoculars and cameras to catch sight of the phenomenon.
    They have also returned to Colorado.

    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  • #2
    Ribeye with wings!!
    If it pays, it stays