Coldest Day In The Blind

cackling geese

Of course, it makes sense--I have about 80 million photos and entries from Nebraska (not to mention a few hundred emails and messages to deal with) and I'm wasting hours because blogger won't load photos (insert Yosemite Sam tirade here).


I have to say that Friday morning in the crane viewing blind at Rowe Sanctuary was the coldest morning I have ever spent in a blind--my camera batteries were totally hating me and I wasn't bummed when the cranes took off before the best morning light for photography (above photo).

blind wear

Like my cold observation blind fashion? I borrowed the Fargo Hat from Non Birding Bill. When I was watching the forecast throughout the week it predicted temperatures in the teens--that's chilly, but doable to me. When I woke up and checked the weather Friday morning, the temperature was 7. When I checked right before we loaded the van at 4:45am, the temperature was 6.2. Thanks to Stan's iPhone we were able to get a temperature update while standing in the crane blind...1 degree Fahrenheit. I was seriously beginning to question my sanity. I had pushed for coming to Nebraska in early March because we would see millions of snow geese as well as thousands of cranes. I didn't think about the possibility of it being this cold in the blind at dawn.

sandhill cranes

And just to prove that I wasn't being a wiener about the weather, take a look at the above photo of a crane in flight. Notice anything weird? If not, take a look at this next photo.


Do you see the difference? Note how the legs are hanging out in back? It was so cold, that as the sandhill cranes would take off from the river they would tuck up each leg into their body. I watched one individual do it. As soon as it had cleared the ground, one leg bent forward and then the whole thing disappeared into its belly feathers and a few seconds later it repeated the same movement with the other foot.

legless cranes

Here is a photo of a whole bunch of cranes in the air. Some crane experts said that only the young tend to do that, but on Friday morning--all the cranes were doing it. It seems to me that the legs in back would act like a rudder--I wonder how much they are affected in flight with them tucked in? The did look like large, strange geese in that flight position.


After we left the blind, the birds went to the field where they usually forage, but in the cold temps, they seemed more focused on hunkering down and staying warm. Above are some sandhill cranes and cackling geese.

More in coming...