Sand Hill Cranes
By Cameron McQuade
Sand hill cranes are magnificent creatures who travel thousands of miles a year. More than 500,000 cranes stop and gain 20% of their body weight in the spring and leave after 4-5 weeks. There is also an endangered bird called "The Whooping Crane" who flies through Nebraska. Here are a couple of fictional examples of the cranes.
The first example of the crane is "The Moon Rabbit". This rabbit wanted to jump on the moon so very badly. He tried almost everything to try to reach it. He asked hawks, eagles, and very high hills. Then he came across a crane who said he would take him to the moon. The rabbit held on the crane's legs as they got closer to the moon. Rabbit's paws were getting weak and blood formed on his paws from gripping tightly. They finally made it to the moon, and the crane's legs were longer than they were. Rabbit thought for a gift to give Crane, and gave him the blood from his paws on Crane's forehead.
This tale was told because it was one of the philosophies how cranes got their physical traits. At the end of the story, Rabbit stayed on the moon and you can see the shape of him on the moon.
A second story would be "The Paper Crane". This story is about a restaurant keeper who has bad business. One day, a stranger had no money, but gave the owner a paper crane made from a napkin. The stranger said that you just have to tap on the folded napkin, and the crane will come to life. It surely came to life and danced all around, full of energy. Word got out about the dancing crane, and the owner's restaurant was back in business. Then one day the stranger came back, but didn't say a word. He took a flute out of his pocket, and made the crane dance. Then he got on the back of the crane and flew away. The owner's restaurant was still in good business by the story of how the paper crane came to life and danced. The stranger and the crane were never seen again.
There are many traits that us humans share with these birds. Some examples are when they dance when they're happy or when they are trying a mate, they "kick out" the baby when it is old enough to be on their own, mate with one crane and go to another mate (manogmous), sibling fights (frachasite), and they wear makeup. (Technically just iron oxides.)
Their migration routes are usually North from South. They pass Nebraska usually in the Spring, and roost here for about a month. The females travel to Siberia, Alaska, or Canada to lay two eggs. When the first one is laid, the second shorty come after two days from the first one. It takes 28-32 days to hatch, and the cranes are about six inches tall when they're born.
The crane's habitat is in or by rivers, in sand banks. The reason why thousands of birds fly by each year is by our Platte River flowing across Nebraska. Our river is the perfect sanctuary for them to roost and move on.
They are omnivores by eating snails and eating off the cornfields by the river. They do this because they will need the energy to be able to travel hundreds of miles daily.
Going to the sanctuary in Kearney enhanced my knowledge of cranes by getting hands-on learning time. It was helpful to look through the blinds and see the birds in their habitat. I learned a lot from the staff there, because it was very interesting. I had fun going against the guys and challenges each other on what we remembered from what we learned. I would love to go again, and see the rise from the cranes.