A few months ago I was privileged to make the acquaintance of a family of sandhill cranes.

The dad took his responsibilities seriously. He was always on the alert for danger.

the patriarch

Good thing, too, because the kid was a bit carefree and liked to wander off on his own.

youngster wandering off

But mom was usually nearby and did her best trying to instill vital skills in her youngin’ – like, for example, the importance of learning to forage for himself.

mother and sonmother and son

Alas, Junior was not too conscientious. He had a penchant for staring off into the distance, daydreaming about who knows what. When I left for my road trip last spring, I had real doubts about his ability to survive.

mother and sonyoung sandhill crane scratching

Lo & behold, he’s a strapping young teenager now, these many months later. He seems almost like a fully functioning member of his family unit. I say ‘almost’ because each member has an assigned vector of responsibility while on patrol – cross-hatched fields of fire, so to speak, which they must closely monitor for a potential ambush. And here he is neglecting his zone and staring in the same direction as his father!

3 sandhill cranes

But the father, as always, was hyper-vigilant. He spotted me right away. In fact, he seemed to recognize me, and brought the troupe up for a closer look.

sandhill cranesandhill cranessandhill cranes

He stepped boldly out onto the path as if to check me out. Then he gave the ‘okay’ signal to the others…

sandhill cranesandhill cranes

The dad assumed the position again, while the others began snooping around. The youngin’ actually walked right up to me!

sandhill cranes on roadsandhill crane close up

But all my good will efforts to bridge the species gap were for naught when two uncouth homo sapiens came swaggering down the trail.

two people approaching sandhill cranes

two people approaching sandhill cranesI am almost close enough to touch the sandhill cranes. I am silent and motionless and respectful. Do these bozos know their fat butts from a hole in the ground? Notice that he is rudely barreling through our sacred space and not even looking where he is going!

sandhill cranes spooked by two humanssandhill cranes in flight :) If this were hunting season, guess where my shotgun would be aimed! :)