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Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) with offspring....
Sandhill Cranes mate for life and raise their chicks together as pairs. This one appears to have lost her mate sometime after nesting this year.... She is a single parent trying to feed 2 chicks where oftentimes there is only one chick and two parents.
Their biggest enemy is us and our cars.
Evolution has not yet taught Sandhill Cranes that 3,000-pound steel boxes traveling at 80mph are dangerous, so they wonder out on roads as if nothing can hurt them. To make things even worse, their gray coloration makes them difficult to see, especially at dawn and dusk which happens to be the most active time for birds in general.
Sandhill Cranes tend to raise their young not far from where they hatch; until the chicks can fly, the parents are voluntarily grounded. Unlike many other birds, the chicks can walk early and most of their "raising" takes place wondering around on foot looking for food as opposed to sitting in a nest waiting to be fed. This makes them vulnerable.
I've been observing this family on both sides of the same 1/2 mile stretch country road for the past week or so..... I never saw the 2nd parent, but so far, noone else has gone missing.... Let's hope it stays that way....
Again, if you live in an area where these magnificent birds nest, please keep an eye out for them while driving as well as critters in general.