Northern Pintail vs. Sandhill Crane

Northern Pintail surprised most everyone when it topped American White Pelican in the first round. So it’s best not to write off this elegant waterfowl. But truly it’s hard to see how it has a shot.

The 30,000-plus cranes that gather at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area each fall are one of the great spectacles of bird migration east of the Mississippi River, if not the greatest. The birds have seen a wonderful increase in numbers during the past several decades, so much so that they’re a frequent sight in and around suburban subdivisions in the Chicago region. Aldo Leopold wrote in Sand County Almanac:

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, yet beyond the reach of words.”

Pick: Sandhill Crane