This April will mark Don’s and my fifth anniversary at Morning Bray Farm.

Every year between October and March, we’re inundated with Sandhill Cranes:

One special crane has visited us every migratory season since October 2007:

What we named her isn’t very creative, but it’s how we’ve always identified her.

Meet Limpy:

 

She definitely walks with a limp. I believe the pain is in her left knee:

We’ve become quite fond of Limpy. She’s a very pretty bird:

She even has a heart on her head:

We don’t know how old Limpy is, but we do know that the average lifespan of a Sandhill Crane is 20 years. We might just be seeing Limpy for many more years to come.

♥ ♥ ♥

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Glimpses from our Saturday afternoon walk:

Heading back toward Morning Bray Farm:

Sunset from Morning Bray Farm:

 

We’re excited. They’ve been returning in waves over the last few days.

The sandhill cranes are back.

I remember reading somewhere that they are one of the loudest, if not the loudest bird species.

Here’s what we’ve been listening to:
 

This is their unison call. Unison calls are produced by a pair of birds. This call, performed with the birds standing close to each other and in a synchronized duet, is a way of reinforcing the pair bond between a female and a male bird. It may also be used by a pair to threaten predators or other cranes.

Water is the driver of nature.

              – Leonardo da Vinci

As of last week, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is moving water again.

Irrigation season has begun.

Change is coming and excitement is in the air.

There’s a party going on…

…and everyone’s invited.

And while some may stay longer than others…

…everyone’s having a great time.

I’ll never tire of watching the cranes that overwinter at Morning Bray Farm.

I just recently learned that their normal life span is about 25 years.

Chances are, then, that we’ll see the same pairs back here year after year.

They’re monogamous and mate for life.

This pair seems quite happy together.

Yesterday was the first time I saw one preening another. Interesting.

And check out the legs. I mean, I knew, but still… surprising to actually see.

This attentiveness looks like love to me.

In the next few days and weeks, our cranes will fly to their nesting grounds in the northern regions of North America or even as far as north eastern Siberia. We’ll see them back here again in October. ♥

A crane fossil approximately ten million years old was found in Nebraska and is structurally identical to the modern Sandhill Crane, making it the oldest known bird species still surviving.

Some other interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes from whatbird.com:

  • Sandhill Cranes are noted for their elaborate courtship displays. Two displays are used to form mating pairs while three other displays occur only between mates and serve to maintain the pair bond.
  • They frequently preen with vegetation and mud stained with iron oxide resulting in a reddish-brown color rather than their natural gray.
  • A group of cranes has many collective nouns, including a “construction”, “dance”, “sedge”, “siege”, and “swoop” of cranes.

Don and I often talk about the magical and unexpected moments we experience at Morning Bray Farm. They seem to happen a whole lot here.  

Take Baby Boy, for instance. He’s gotten to the point now where he follows me around the corral and pasture… his nose to my rear. Momma is frequently not far behind these days. That’s magical, considering they were feral when they came to us a year and a half ago. I love them and they make me smile.

Check out Gladys. After laying a dozen or so eggs and being inattentive to her nest the last couple of weeks, she’s been faithfully sitting on her X marks the spot eggs in the goat stall for the last two days and nights. Isn’t she pretty?

She doesn’t seem to mind our comings and goings. That’s magical too. I can’t help but coo at her and smile every time I walk past.

Unexpected surprises can also be magical. For example, finding one of Lenny’s winter stashes in the hose storage container by the barn. How does he know he needs to save for the upcoming months? Whether it’s magic or instinct, made me smile.  

Yesterday, this one made me say, “Well, I’ll be.” 

The sandhill cranes are back in town. This was our first official sighting of the year from Morning Bray Farm. The magic in this… Limpy (in the foreground) is back for her third straight year in a row. In case you’re wondering, Limpy limps. That’s how we know it’s her.

She brought a big old smile to my face. Simply magical. ♥