"Unstained" adult Sandhill Crane“Unstained” adult Sandhill Crane – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

A few days ago I saw quite a few Sandhill Cranes starting at just past the Visitors Center for Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, in one of the farmer’s fields I saw 11 of them feeding in the freshly tilled soil. I didn’t take any images of them because there were too far away and the sun hadn’t yet fully risen. Later on I spotted two more Sandhill adults in a field that I did take images of even though I would have preferred them to be closer. During this time of the year many of the Sandhill Cranes I see are mostly soft mousey gray in color but…

"Stained" adult Sandhill Crane “Stained” adult Sandhill Crane – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

they can look like they are any where from drab clay colored to cinnamon rufous because their plumage gets stained by water, vegetation and mud. Sandhill Cranes intentionally rub their plumage with soil and the color of the soil can determine what color the stain becomes.  A freshly molted crane will appear pale to slate colored gray. Normally the stains are mid-neck or below but the crane above shows staining up the neck into the chin and upper throat.

Stained or unstained I think Sandhill Cranes are quite lovely for living fossils.

Mia