Sandhill Cranes flock to Key City

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Hundreds of visitors flocked into the Key City this week as a kind of pit stop along their cross-country journey.

A large group of Sandhill Cranes that migrated into Abilene were spotted along E. N. 10th Street.

Abilene resident Michael Hardin first noticed the birds Wednesday morning, mistaking them for geese, which he often sees at his home.

“I looked out this morning and saw about 400 of what I thought was geese, but ending up being Sandhill Cranes,” said Hardin.

These birds migrate every winter to the Lone Star State and northern Mexico, said Abilene State Park Ranger Candyce Johnson.

“Sometimes you’ll see where two groups are kind of near each other, and they’re all talking,” said Johnson. “And, you can hear them up to 2 and half miles away. Then they’ll converge and they’ll take off flying either North or South depending on which way they’re going.”

The cranes chose the open field as a hot dining spot for their dish of choice.

“They spend most of their time in agricultural fields feeding on grains and if there’s water, if it’s a flooded ag field, then they’ll feed on the invertebrates that may be there as well,” said Johnson.

Johnson reminds onlookers and bird enthusiasts to not feed our feathered friends.

“Most people want to, they tend to feed birds bread, but you can kind of liken that to, you know, if you were just sitting and eating ice cream all day,” said Johnson.

Johnson adds these cranes are pretty shy, but even if you do get close enough, she said you may be endangering yourself.

“They may, you know, hit you with their wings,” Johnson said. “When it comes to predators, they’ll try and kick out at them. “And so like I said, this is a fairly large bird about 5 feet tall, you know, about as tall as me. You don’t want to get close to them.”

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