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Crying for cranes

Illinois

semi-overcast 43 °F

Yesterday, I dragged Tian and Pearl along with me so I could search for a very rare sophomore bird: the Whooping Crane. With less than 1K individuals left in the wild and the fact that I had only ever seen this bird once before (and for just about five seconds as a flyover above some treetops), I was really hoping to find this bird.

After about an hour and 25 minutes in the car, we arrived at the appointed location (have to keep it a secret in case for some reason the birds are still around — one is not allowed to post about this species in Illinois) to find many SANDHILL CRANES in attendance, along with CANADA GEESE:
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Other waterfowl were around as well, including NORTHERN SHOVELER:
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Drake GREEN-WINGED TEAL with more geese:
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GADWALL:
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NORTHERN PINTAIL:
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One of my favorite sightings of the fay was definitely this ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a winter visitor from the High Arctic which was a year bird for me:
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AMERICAN WIGEONS, GADWALL, and CANADA GEESE:
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And the Sandhills streamed in in numbers. First dozens, then hundreds, and I ended the day with about 2050 as a rough count.
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As the last light of the day crept away from me, my hopes for the elusive Whooping Crane grew dimmer with it, despite my efforts of scanning all of the incoming Sandhill flocks in an impeccable manner. At least there was a beautiful sunset.
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Well, you win some you lose some! Hopefully I can get the Whoopers next year. Happy late Thanksgiving to all!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1123 Species

Posted by skwclar 21:46 Archived in USA

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Comments

When I was a child, I remember reading in the paper that there were fewer than 50 whooping cranes in existence. It's great that we now have close to 1,000! Beautiful pictures, as usual!

by liz cifani

Wonderful pictures, Henry! I too have only seen a whooper with sandhills on a fly over. Incidentally saw about 75 sandhills flying over yesterday; such a delightful sound, trailing southward. So great you saw the rough legged too.

by Mary McCutchan

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