The annual fall migration of the sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis) is under way. Southwest Manitoba is a major staging area for this migration as thousands of birds gather here from their nesting areas in Northern Canada and Siberia. The trip will end when they reach their winter homes in Texas and Mexico. Often the first indication that cranes are migrating is the sound of their croaking call drifting down as they circle high overhead. A wingspan of five to seven feet makes them very skilled soaring birds, similar in style to hawks and eagles. Using thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings. Migratory flocks contain hundreds of birds, and can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air they ride.
© Virden Empire-Advance