(Image credit: Betty Cracker via Balloon-Juice)

Posted by Ellen

These sandhill cranes have it easy; they were spotted in their Florida marsh last week, long past spring migration time, so they're not migratory snowbirds; they live in Florida year-round.

Some of their migratory cousins may winter with them in Florida, but if a sandhill crane expects to fly all the way back to summer nesting grounds in the marshy tundra of northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia–which is the way most of these birds like to live their lives–then it's going to have to get out of Florida by the end of February, early March at the very latest. A rest stop each March for more than 600,000 migrating sandhill cranes is the Platte River near Fort Kearny, Nebraska, where skies darken with what is said to be one of the great natural spectacles on earth.

Sandhill cranes dance, and they have a call that's sort of in between a dove and a turkey.