Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sky Cranes

World weary and battered by the bad news on so many of Ohio's environmental fronts, a few of us went search of solace, healing and respite that only nature gives our souls. Steve McKee of Gorman Nature Center offered a woodpecker walk into the ravines of Mohican which provided some much need exercise and an end-of-day birding trip to the Funk Bottoms/Killbuck Wildlife areas south of Wooster provided an additional lift for our mood.

Sandhill Cranes aloft. Photo Greg Cornett

Nothing could be more magical than watching Sandhill Cranes in descending flight. Hanging mid-air, gently tipping outstretched wings to drop altitude: poetry in motion.

I have often watch Canada Geese perform this ballet while descending toward pond or corn field. The sheer size of these four-foot cranes magnify the seemingly impossible flight of these giant birds. Although I do not understand the principals of aviation (nor do I imagine the cranes know or care) the slow motion balance work is a miraculous sight. Legs dangling, delicately preparing for contact, these sandhill cranes remind me of living hang gliders.

Sandhill Cranes aground. Photo Greg Cornett

We spent a portion of our late afternoon with Sandhill Cranes, 104 at our last count, as they gathered for an evening roost. While this may not be the numbers of birds seen in Jasper-Pulaski, or Bosque del Apache, it is certainly a sight of merit within striking distance for mid-Ohioans. I know it set my world right.

As John Muir said, "Everybody need beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul."

Here our map to Rt 95 ( Blachleyville Rd) and S. Elyria Rd. near Funk-Bottoms Wildlife area with the bird site in red. The birds generally move around that area, sometimes seen in the corn stubble south of the church on the corner of Blachleyville Rd. Circle that block, and chances are good you may find a gathering. Or keep an eye skyward, and you'll likely see two or three coming and going during daylight hours.

Here's to Ohio and to all of the natural areas for birds, and nature's wonderous healing. May it continue to be so.


  1. Another bird that has awesome flight characteristics it the pelican. I call them 747's.
    I once watched them fly at eye level when I was on a river bank and they were cruising down the river.

  2. Hey Cheryl, there's a teeny problem in the link for the nature center - looks like there's a space in between "nature" and "center," which keeps the link from working correctly. Otherwise, an awesome post. I have yet to see Sandhills in real life.

  3. Thanks Heather- I fixed that link- hopefully it works now.

    Red- you are right and I love to watch pelicans gliding just above the water. Hard to believe that bird can fly!