Saturday, March 05, 2011

crane flight smoke signed dawn

Today I woke up at 4:15AM to meet with a dozen other early birdwatchers. We were determined to see Sandhill Cranes rise out of the Platte River in Kearney, Nebraska. The experience was magical and meditative. I'll always remember the stars winking above our layered, shivering bodies, and the careful crunching of human feet. We navigated a dark, cleared path to the water. We spilled into a rectangular box with square windows and held our tongues. Wide awake, we waited for a legendary spectacle at dawn. At first light, crazy coyote yelps gave way to rallying crane song. Clan by clan, the long-necked birds claimed the air, circling, noisily, above us. Their inky wings moved like handwriting across the sky...pages and pages of fifty thousand bird words. I'll always remember a lone bald eagle jetting beneath their cacophonous serenade. Here's some fuzzy, urgent, upside down video footage worth listening to:

I'm grateful to poet Allison Hedge-Coke for introducing me to these 9 million year old creatures. They teach a powerful lesson about commitment and cooperative survival. If they can do it, maybe we can?
Check out the Rowe Sanctuary's crane fact page.