Out on a bike ride yesterday we spotted (how could we miss?) a lone Sandhill Crane foraging along the edge of the path that winds through Paul Douglas FP :
Sandhill Crane :: Cook County, IL, 2014
On a day where we weren't really planning on seeing many birds the sight of this crane made a wonderful outing on the bikes truly memorable. The bird did not seem at all skittish by our presence. We moved slowly to get a little closer, but other cyclists whizzed on by, and the bird seemed oblivious to the traffic. He seemed rather more interested in whatever food source was lurking in the edge between the mowed grass and the adjacent meadow.
We came up with various theories to explain his tranquility. 1) we wondered if he was sick. 2) maybe he was a little bit dim-witted. 3) perhaps he was juvenile and not conditioned to be afraid of humans 4) he was really hungry. He moved slowly and deliberately in that way that herons and egrets do when they're fishing. He kept up this slow pace, poking at the weeds every now and again. At one point he took a quick, comical lurch, stabbing at a Queen Anne's Lace, and I presume some unlucky insect.
Anecdotally speaking it seems like we're seeing more Sandhill Cranes in Cook County over the past few years. A good sign! We sure got a good look at this one. They're such magnificent creatures. I do love the way this cell-phone picture turned out. It's not the best quality image by any means, but the crane has that regal, somewhat over-exposed staged appearance that reminds me a little of the old (and beloved) dioramas seen at the Field Museum.