Enter the Guest of Honor

One of the problems I had with photographing at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge was with so much happening I would be looking the wrong way and not see something I wanted to photograph.  For instance,  I was photographing a Great Blue Heron landing.


After he landed, another bird flew in from the right.  It flew like an Eagle, which I’m always glad for the opportunity to photograph, but it was too far away and I knew the shots wouldn’t turn out well enough.  When I noticed it was flying erratically.  It would stop in mid-air, sort of doing a tail stand.  I remember thinking to myself, What’s wrong with that bird?  Has it forgotten how to fly?  Until, it did one of its tail stands and then dove straight into the water.


Not something an Eagle does.  That’s when I realized I had been watching an Osprey and his erratic flying was due to him looking for fish.  So I decided to photograph and hope for the best.


He emerged with a fish.


All seemed well for the successful Osprey as he flew off with his fish.


Until I noticed another bird enter the area.  Actually, I didn’t notice it.  I heard it.  It sounded like a Sandhill Crane, but not like any Sandhill Crane I had ever heard.  So I stopped photographing the Osprey and looked in the direction of the sound I heard and in an instant I remembered why I was there.


Enter Grus americana in Latin, Whooping Crane to everyone else.  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is one of two summer homes of this bird.  The other being in Western Canada.  Whooping Cranes are an endangered species.  There are fewer than five hundred of these birds in the wild, and while I wish I had closer shots, these are the best I have.  This is the only Whooping Crane I saw during my two trips into the refuge last week, but it is the reason I went and I was thrilled to see this one.


It landed in this field, which was about a mile from me, or less than two thousand meters but still a long ways away.


A Sandhill Crane watches the larger bird land, while a Great Blue Heron preens itself in the bottom right corner of the photo.


I kind of have a sense of how large this bird is because I know how big the Sandhill Crane is.  Sandhill Cranes, basically, are about three to four feet in height, or 1 to 1.2 meters.  Whopping Cranes can get as large as five feet or 1.5 meters in height.


I remained there for about five hours.  The Whooping Crane settled into the tall grasses and occasionally I saw it poke its head up to see what was going on, while I contented myself with photographing the other birds.


4 Responses to “Enter the Guest of Honor”

  1. July 14, 2012 at 5:31 am

    These photos are wonderful

  2. 2 Randy Roberts
    July 14, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Thank you. You’re very kind.

  3. July 14, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I love this story and the photographs – I have never heard of a whooping crane – how wonderful!

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