Sandhill Crane family

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I heard about the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) chick at Burnaby Lake from bcsongbird. She says it is not usual to see Sandhill Cranes there and this couple has been there for a few months. I saw my first Sandhill Cranes at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Wednesday. There were many adults eating tidbits on the gravel path near the water, along with some Canada Geese. Friday, I had an errand to run in Burnaby so I thought I’d pop by Burnaby Lake afterwards. It was my second time there. The first time I walked along the south shore, so yesterday I visited the north shore. I headed to the Piper Spit, which seems to be the place where the waterbirds like to hang out. There were many, many nest boxes on a sand flat nearby. I spent some time hanging out on the pier and taking pictures of the many birds. Twice, the family of cranes walked near me so I managed to take some decent photographs with my tiny camera. I’m guessing the dad is the closest crane in my picture. He’s in the “protector” position. And sometimes the other two would wander away on their own.

According to All About Birds, female Sandhill Cranes typically lay two eggs and usually, only one survives to fledge. Sandhill Cranes mate for life and stay with their mate year-round. Youngsters stay close to their parents for 9 to 10 months after hatching.

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27 Comments

  1. very nice family portrait. I only saw (a single) Sandhill Crane a couple of months ago at Piper Spit. apparently this baby is supposed to be the first Sandhill Crane colt born there. Piper Spit is great for photographing waterfowl close up — I got to meet a few Blue-Winged Teals this way! 🙂

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    1. Thanks :-). I was quite excited to see the Sandhill Crane family hanging out together and walk right by me. Piper Spit was more beautiful than I expected. It was a lovely place to sit and watch a variety of birds. It is smart that the park people don’t allow dogs in that area, since dogs are so fond of chasing ducks. Did the Blue-Winged Teals stay at Burnaby Lake long? I saw one male at the Vanier Park pond a month or two ago. It’s comfort distance was at least half the width of the pond. I barely caught sight of the white crescent on its face before it motored away.

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      1. unfortunately, I saw them just that once at Burnaby Lake (about 10 feet away) on May 31, and they have not returned since. 😦

        I saw my first one at Iona (far, far away at the inner ponds) and then 9 more at Reifel, and the closest at Piper Spit. they are the first of the migratory duck species to migrate south in the fall. they are also a bit of a rarity up here, and don’t show up in large flocks.

        Piper Spit is indeed a great place to see the waterfowl close up. I try to go there at least once a month to see the Wood Ducks plus discover new bird species to add to my life list.

        Cheers, Hui

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        1. Sad that the little crane didn’t make it. I wonder if they will try again at Burnaby Lake next year.

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          1. I hope so, too. it would be nice to see Sandhill Crane colts elsewhere in the Lower Mainland (I have never seen any at Reifel, and this year, “thanks to” predators, there were no young there, either).

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            1. Wow, I had no idea it is so hard for them to raise young here.

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            2. I think normally it is not (older colts have been seen on local golf courses in previous years), but I think the smoke from the forest fires were just too much for this colt’s young lungs and respiratory system–and the greatest concentrations were in North Burnaby.

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            3. The smoky air does sound like a plausible cause of respiratory distress. Very hard on young lungs.

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            4. as with humans, the very young and the very old are susceptible.

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  2. The little baby is so adorable! What a great shot you got!! Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Thanks :-)! I felt very lucky to be there at that particular moment.

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  3. How exciting and wonderful to see them this close and to see a chick too! They winter a couple of hours drive from me, and I try to go see them every year. What a lovely image you made of this family!

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    1. Such an ephemeral sighting. The chick died :-(. I suppose they will try again next year.

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  4. Aw, you caught the baby! What a great shot. As I write this I think, someone could really misinterpret my words! The first time you see the cranes up close, aren’t they amazing? So huge!

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    1. :-D. I was quite excited when saw my first cranes, a large group eating on a gravel path. I was careful not to get too close, but as I was taking pictures, one approached to within a foot of me. Very cool.

      It seems I “caught” the baby just in time. Its lungs couldn’t handle the weekend’s smoky air from nearby wild fires :-(.

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      1. Oh, no! THat is really sad news. Are the fires worse than usual, or is that the hysterical news making it seem like it?

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        1. Yes, they are quite bad all over British Columbia. They are happening north and east of Vancouver but the winds are bringing them here. It smelled smoky and was hard to breathe on Sunday. Now the smoke particles seem higher up but they are still screening the sky and sun. North Burnaby, where the little crane was, has the worst air quality in the area – not quite as bad as Beijing, but close. I’ve never experienced this before.

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          1. It scares me a little. My son was in Northern Wisconsin (did I already mention this?) and he said they saw smoke from the Canadian fire. Crazy. Climate scientists have been warning of this, of course but I find myself asking, “Is this real? Is this the way it will be?”

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            1. I just read that southern Ontario is getting hazy skies due to the smoke from the many wildfires raging in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The smoke can travel really long distances! I guess it is because the fires are large and have been raging for days so the smoke hasn’t been dissipating. Maybe we are heading toward smokier and smokier summers. I hope not :-(.

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            2. Me too. I’m waiting for some bright-eyed developer to say, “Hey, I know. Let’s cut down all the trees!”

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            3. I guess it happens all the time. Every year, more little bits of forest become housing developments. Some get saved by nature conservation groups but others don’t.

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  5. What a great shot! I can see you sitting there quietly, holding your breath for the right moment. Lovely!

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    1. Thanks :-). I was there at the right time (and I did hold my breath!). Bittersweet loveliness. The chick died a few days later :-(.

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      1. Oh so sad and bittersweet. The image has even more meaning then.

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  6. What a great photo with the baby in the middle! Love it! ❤️

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    1. Thanks Jill :-)! I was happy to witness that sweet family moment. I hope their next baby lives to adulthood.

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