Dean M. Chriss
The Fall Migration

The Fall Migration, Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes

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In this photograph snow geese and sandhill cranes are seen arriving at their wintering grounds to feed in the early morning. Some of these birds have traveled more than 3000 miles (4800 km) to reach this site.

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) are the oldest surviving bird species on earth, having survived unchanged for roughly 2.5 million years. These migrations were beginning when humans were first learning to use stone tools. During the strenuous journey to escape brutal northern winters the cranes travel between two and five hundred miles each day. Survivors arrive tired and hungry. The new arrivals are greeted with joyous dancing and calls that can be heard a mile away. Their existence depends entirely on this place and those along the way where they rest.