Sandhill Crane and a stormy sky

Sandhill Crane and a stormy skySandhill Crane and a stormy sky

In March of this year I spent several days photographing Sandhill Cranes in southern Utah where the light and the weather could rapidly change. This Sandhill Crane flew in when a snow storm was hanging over the mountains to the northwest as the sun came up.  I thought the light on the crane was beautiful against the drama of the background.

“On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.” Aldo Leopold

For me it is always a joy to see a new day begin with the sight of Sandhill Cranes and to hear their clangorous calls as a new day begins.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Ha! You were so close you can see the light through its nostrils! Yes indeed! It is an amazing sight! Love these birds! I use to watch them from the Great Salt Lake Shoreland Preserve viewing tower. I always loved being up there on a stormy day, especially as I was usually there alone! On days like that, I can feel the wildness in me!

  2. Cranes are fascinating. I got to spend some time observing them massing on the Platte River from a blind in Nebraska last March. It was a unique experience.

  3. Brilliant photograph, Mia! I love the “pastel” look of the backdrop and can easily visualize a storm brewing. Terrific play of light on the feathers.

    We’re fortunate to have a morning and evening flyover of Sandhills as they move to and from roost and feeding ground. It’s a wonderful way to start a day!

  4. Wonderful image Mia. I listened to their calls at the link you gave and discovered this life history: “Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round. Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching. The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed in Florida.” And everyone knows they are also graceful dancers.

  5. Fantastic picture, love it!

  6. Beautiful shot…love the soft clouds and hint of mountain in the background…

  7. Such amazing light in this shot and I too love hearing the cranes in the evenings and the mornings at my house. Almost as much as the songbirds.

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