Some of the relatively few whooping cranes left now migrate with their kin, the sandhill cranes. Cather, or her characters, were lucky to live when they could hear just the whooping crane’s voice.
Also a memorable mention of a whooping crane (sorry, not Sandhill, but perhaps relevant) in “The Enchanted Bluff”: “Suddenly we heard a scream above our fire, and jumped up to see a dark, slim bird floating southward far above us—a whooping crane, we knew by her cry and her long neck. We ran to the edge of the island, hoping we might see her alight, but she wavered southward along the rivercourse until we lost her.”
Having been on a Cather-sandhill Cranes trip on Friday, I think I can say with authority that Ivar in O Pioneers is describing migrating cranes when he talks about his pond and specifically mentions cranes. A Rowe Sanctuary guide who heard that description read aloud said it was definitely on point for crane behavior, and sandhill cranes were the obvious species.
A question from a friend: “Did Cather ever write about Sand Hill Cranes”? I can think of ducks, but not cranes.
Do tell. Thanks.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Charles A. Dana Professor of Canadian Studies and English Emeritus
St. Lawrence University
Canton, New York 13617