iN PHOTOS: Hundreds of migrating sandhill cranes make annual stop near Merritt | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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iN PHOTOS: Hundreds of migrating sandhill cranes make annual stop near Merritt

Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Loekie Vanderwall

Logan Lake resident and photographer Loekie Vanderwall had an unforgettable experience when she headed out with the Nicola Naturalist Society a couple of days ago to see the sandhill crane migration and saw several hundreds of cranes take to the air.

“They do circles getting higher and higher into the air, off to continue their migration.” she said. “It was spectacular, we enjoyed it very much.”

The cranes migrate through and stop on the Douglas Lake plateau in Merritt in the spring before heading further north. Vanderwall said the group of naturalists made a stop on Douglas Lake road on April 16, in front of a farmer’s field with grazing cows in it and hundreds of cranes. They were joined by some members of the Central Okanagan Naturalist Club who made the trip to see the migration. 

She said they "were lucky” because a farmer came out to feed the cows and disrupted the cranes, sending them all into flight.

“Several by several started taking off and we were taking photos,” she said. “There were probably around 600 cranes and they were loud with beaks wide open making noises." 

Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Loekie Vanderwall

Vanderwall has been photographing wildlife and landscapes in and around Logan Lake for several years since emigrating from the Netherlands, and her favourite subject is birds. She is a member of the Nicola Naturalists Society.

READ MORE: iN PHOTOS: Photographers capturing migratory birds returning to Kamloops, Okanagan

Sandhill cranes are long-distance migrants, with three subspecies living year-round in Florida, Mississippi and Cuba and three subspecies migrating between northern North America to the southern states and Mexico, according to All About Birds. 

The cranes are tall with gray bodies and crimson caps, and have loud, unique cries due to their long windpipes.

They form huge groups of hundreds or thousands, and breed in wetlands, fields and prairies across North America.

READ MORE: TRENDING NOW: Loud snoring gives away pup's hiding spot

Cranes do dances while courting, stretching their wings, pumping their heads, bowing and leaping into the air, and they mate for life, staying with their mates year-round.

Sandhill crane at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Sandhill crane at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Loekie Vanderwall

Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Loekie Vanderwall

Sandhill cranes at Tranquille pond, Kamloops.
Sandhill cranes at Tranquille pond, Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Lyn MacDonald

Sandhill cranes at Tranquille pond, Kamloops.
Sandhill cranes at Tranquille pond, Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Lyn MacDonald

Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Loekie Vanderwall

Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Sandhill cranes at Douglas Lake north of Merritt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Lyn MacDonald

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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