The "Early Life of Pi-'13" - the first summer for a colt in interior Alaska


Since 2004, I have kept a daily written and photo journal of the activites of a pair of Sandhill Cranes (Millie and Roy) who spent their summers in Goldstream Valley, Alaska.  Usually they arrive in late April after the snow has left the marsh, nest a week later, and depart in early September, often with a crane colt hatched in June. 


In 2013, Alaska's spring was late. Millie and Roy returned to deep snow on May 8, began incubation 8 days later, and hatched a colt (Pi) in mid-June. This webpage is a Guide to 15 Photo Galleries depicting Pi's story as he hatched and learned to forage, to dance, and to fly such that he was ready for the long migration to west Texas.

1-Returnhome(week 1) Millie watches as Roy wades through deep snow covering the pond.

2-First week(week 1) Exploring the territory, dancing, foraging, and inspecting nest sites.

3-Incubation(weeks 2-6) Nesting, dancing, preening, and incubating for 30 days. as the pond thaws.

4-Roy's dance (week 2) Roy runs and dances across the snowy pond after his shift as incubator on the nest.

5-Pi hatches(week 6-7) Pi toddles after Millie and Roy as they forage and feed the growing colt.

6-Millie & Roy are dance coaches(weeks 7-11) Parents encourage Pi to practice dance skills.

7-Threats(week 5-13)Parents are wary and Pi often flees from danger.

8-Dragonflies(weeks 8-13) Millie and Roy snatch dragonflies in flight and offer some to Pi.

9-Ground School(week 9) PI runs and flaps and runs and flaps in ground school.

10-Swimming(week 13) Roy and Pi swim across the pond.

11-Dance and fly(weeks 15-17) Millie and Roy dance with Pi and then demonstrate flight.

12-Flight School(weeks 13-17) Flight school includes motivation, flight mechanics, and learning social signals.

13-Foraging and Intruder Cranes(weeks 14-17) Learning to forage and to expell late-season visitors

14-Pi scrutinizes(weeks 15-16) Accompanied by Millie and Roy, Pi explores his environment and also his parents.

15-Time to migrate(weeks 17-18) Training in early September for the flight to West Texas.

Sandhill Crane Display Dictionary

Photos of Millie and Roy as they dance their way through a summer.

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© 2013 Christy Yuncker Happ