Bird Watch: Sandhill Cranes

I just found out that a sandhill crane, or more precisely, a flock of them, was the indirect inspiration for the Sea to Sky Gondola. Co-founder Trevor Dunn said he was out trail running in the Chilcotins years ago, when he launched over a ridge and landed amidst a flock of cranes. They took off around him. Exhilarated, he raced over to the ranger’s cabin, hoping to learn more, only to discover bulletholes and graffiti tags. At that point, he vowed to dedicate his energy to making nature more accessible. He went home, quit his job, and the rest is history.
I’m not so naive as to not sniff a whiff of spin in the tale. But there’s something about the image that sticks with me.
The sandhill cranes are still around the neighbourhood, reports John Tschopp. “They seem to like the evening.”
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The Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) is a very large and spectacular bird. During migration, it is a high- flying, raucous flocking bird. The Chilcotin-Cariboo region is the centre of the province’s breeding population.

They mate for life, have huge wing spans (typically 1.65 to 2.29 m (5 ft 5 in to 7 ft 6 in), making them very skilled soaring birds. They user thermals to obtain lift and can stay aloft for hours. Migratory flocks contain hundreds of birds, and can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air they ride. They also have one of the longest fossil histories of any extant bird.

In addition to inspiring a career re-routing for Trevor Dunn, they inspired the band, Wild Belle, performing at the Pemberton Festival this summer.

Their label, Sandhill Sound, is “named after the sandhill cranes that fly over our house every fall. They make this crazy kind of sound and they fly really high, they fly these exhausting circles upward until they catch thermal winds and coast for miles as they migrate from Northern Canada to Mexico.”

Wild-Belle_Approved-Photo

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