On Thursday morning when my neighbors had checked on the Sandhill crane nest there were still two eggs in it. Dad wanders the little lake in my former backyard, but periodically he returns to the nest and Mom seems to take that opportunity to stand up and turn the eggs, and maybe take a little swim. A sort of coffee break, Sandhill crane style. And the nest is a total departure from what they had built in the past. It’s not out on the island further from the shore. They built quite the mound, and located it perfectly for pictures, if you don’t mind negotiating the fire ant hills in the next yard down, and walking out onto the little old dock that has been there for years,. The dock sits at the back of that yard, sad and unused, and in the 12 years that I lived two doors up it’s never had water even close to it.
By mid-day I had gotten the word that one of the eggs had hatched, and I got there as fast as I could. I know from the past two years that the family was going to hang around the nest for only a day or so, but then they would march off at sunrise and return at sunset. The first time that happened two years ago I came home from work at lunch time and there were two adult cranes out there but no babies. What a moment, I was so upset. By that time I was thoroughly invested in that little family. But it must have been another pair because come late afternoon the family returned, all four of them, and I came to realize that that was going to be their routine. I read that a Sandhill crane chick must walk three miles a day, right from go, to develop those thigh muscles. I realized then that watching them raising their babies wasn’t going to be for sissies. I will go back today and hopefully find two little chicks out there having swimming lessons. And when one of them rolls down the side of that steep mounded nest I will restrain myself, as I had to on Thursday, because this is nature, taking it’s course.