The sandhill cranes who migrate each spring to our cranberry bog near Fairbanks, Alaska inspired us to create this website. We feature Millie and Roy, wild sandhill cranes who fledged eight colts between 1995 to 2016. Over 22 years, our relationship remained respectful (100-1500 feet of separation) as we studied each other. read more...
Millie and Roy kept track of our habits. They took little notice of every-day barking at sleddog dinner-time yet cued off alarm yelps when a predator was in the neighborhood. They ignored the noisy truck that brought weekly water deliveries but the fuel-oil truck that came once a summer triggered caution. They were accustomed to my opening the deck door to poke the long lens through the screen curtain...except during mating.
Likewise we came to know their patterns: excited dancing on the icy pond after arrival each spring, nesting, coaching each year's colts to forage, to dance, to fly, and to dodge dangers, and leading family excursions to neighboring ponds when fall departure neared.
My notes and images provide a continuous record of successive nesting seasons of this pair of cranes. We believe that this 22 year chronicle, based on over 15,000 hours of close observation, can be viewed as a longitudinal study of nesting and nuturing. It is told from a personal point of view, yet the camera keeps it true.
In the summer seasons since Millie and Roy, several other crane families have vied for the territory. Because we knew Millie and Roy so very well, we can now see stiking and consistent differences in demeanor among the individual birds who have followed after them. The unique personalities of the birds suggest impressive capabilities of their minds.
Visitors to this website may have insights from their own perspectives. Please email your comments and especially send stories about other cranes raising their colts.
Christy Yuncker Happ