Did you ever get the feeling that you may have been missing out on something?
There is a special time of year on the prairies that is quickly becoming my favourite – sandhill season. It starts with the first sighting of Sandhill Cranes in summer and lasts until I can’t find them anymore in fall. It is just a matter of time before it will be on official calendars.
Each year they seem to congregate in different stubble fields south of our city. This fall I saw them every few kilometers on some roads. What a beautiful and familiar sight. But it wasn’t always so.
Years ago there no sandhills around here. I remember the first time I saw one, I had no idea what it was. I took a photo and showed it to a hunter who identified this strangely appealing creature.
I asked whether he hunted them. He said yes and told me how to prepare them:
Take a nice piece of meat and a cedar board and place them together in the oven. When they are finished cooking, throw away the meat and eat the wood because it’s not as tough.
At least he was helpful with the identifying information!
After that conversation, I began to keep an eye out for these birds. They had me hooked from the beginning with their large size, beautiful wing colourings and gracefully-awkward movements on land.
I started seeing a lot of them. One day as I was looking from a distance, I noticed that it was hard to tell geese and Sandhill Cranes apart. They often end up in the same fields.
Suddenly a light went on. It’s entirely possible that for many years I had glanced out at fields, assumed that I was looking at geese and missed out on the Sandhill Cranes entirely. Yikes.
Now I wonder what else I’m missing!