I traveled across the country to look for this crane, but I found him in my backyard

sandhill crane migration
© Ilana E. Strauss

I think sandhill cranes were playing a joke on me.

A while back, I traveled to Nebraska to witness the great sandhill crane migration. Hundreds of thousands of these birds from around the hemisphere congregate in Nebraska every year on their annual migration.

The problem was, I couldn't get close to any of them. Sandhill cranes are skittish; they fly away when anyone comes near. I woke up before dawn multiple days in a row to try and snap a photo of one up close, but it was to no avail.

Afterward, I flew to my parents' house in Illinois and showed my family the group photos of the cranes.

"You aunt saw one of those the other day," my Dad told me. "She got really close to it, only a few feet away."

"What?"

It was true. A couple sandhill cranes had ended up in Illinois, and they were hanging out in the neighborhood. They were oddly unafraid of people.

I drove out with my aunt to try and find one. We looked for an hour, but they seemed to have moved on.

A few days later, my aunt called: they were back! I dashed over with my camera and got crazy close to one. This close:

me with a sandhill crane in illinois© Debbie Bohmbach

I snapped some photos, including the one above. I'm still convinced the cranes were playing a trick on me all along.

I traveled across the country to look for this crane, but I found him in my backyard
I think sandhill cranes were playing a joke on me.

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