Friday, May 29, 2015

Sandhill cranes in Stillwater County provide sweeping glimpse of exotic birdlife as they grace us for a time


A trio of sandhill cranes steps lightly across a field near Fishtail, Montana, between recent rain storms.
The sandhill crane takes its name from Nebraska's Sandhills. 

THERE MAY be no more spectacular sight than the unexpected view of a glorious flock of sandhill cranes putting down in a wheat field -- or taking off!
The sandhill crane has been visiting near us lately (south-central Montana, about a half-hour from Red Lodge and a few miles north of Nye.)  This lovely bird is known in North America and even as far as extreme northeastern Siberia.

'Lilian...' musical songs debut to public     (click link at left)

THE COMMON name of this uncommon bird -- a bit like a Las Vegas showgirl --  refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills on the American Plains. But this large and beautiful crane also passes through Montana, spends time to nest, reproduce, raise its young and feed, then takes off again.
Cranes can be seen in many places, including in our neck
of the woods in the Northern Rockies.
Found in several scattered areas of North America, sandhill cranes reach their peak abundance at migratory stopover points on the Great Plains. There, they can be seen by the hundreds.
We've had the good fortune to view a dozen or so at a time as they stop off in Montana.
The early spring gathering of Sandhills on the Platte River in Nebraska is among the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent, with over a quarter of a million birds present at one time. Although they are currently considered "common," their dependence on a key stopover sites makes them vulnerable to loss of habitat in the future.


SANDHILL cranes are no sissy birds.  The ones in the northern hemisphere migrate long distances (some cross the Bering Straits every spring and fall, en route to and from nesting
grounds in Siberia). Those from the southern part of their  main breeding range -- in the northern and western parts of the lower 48 states -- migrate shorter distances.
Recently, with global warming, the sandhill has begun migrating later in fall and earlier in spring. Some are spending winters farther north than usual. Sandhill crane populations nesting in Mississippi, Florida, and Cuba do not migrate at all.  Lucky, birds, to be able to stay put, enjoy the sun and conserve energy!
Nick and Nora, our Yorkies, enjoy
a suite in the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles.

"A Little Night Music," by Stephen Sondheim, 
directed by Vint Lavinder, enjoyed a successful
 run at NOVA in Billings, Montana. 
More about this innovative enterprise soon.
COMING UP: Doggone it. Nick and Nora, our magnificent Yorkies, have been with us a decade.  We reflect on the wonders of the canine-human connection next blog. And Venture Theater of Billings, Montana, and Rimrock Opera Company, two proud Billings arts organizations, merged to form NOVA. As its name suggests, NOVA offers new, exciting work. Recently, "A Little Night Music" graced the stage of the Montana Avenue theater. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekends and Wednesdays for fun road tripping, arts features, music, travel and cruising tips, at :


  1. Splendid photo of the three sandhills at the top of the article.....we drove from Bozeman up the West Fork, visiting friends, over Memorial Day..... have only seen the sandhills on the Boulder so this was a treat.

  2. Denverites heading northJune 2, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    Wow! They look like something out of the dinosaur era. Fabulous photo. I grew up near Denver and we used to drive south and east to see them in Florida. This is much better. We're coming north! THANK YOU THANK YOU for the enticement.

  3. I can't resist this: "The cranes, the cranes......" thinking of "Fantasy Island" and the little actor who cried, "The plane, the plane." Cannot wait to see this sight for myself. The top photo is a prize winner and the story drew me in....