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  • Roberta Winchester

Legends of the Crane

The magnificent sandhill crane is one of the most widely distributed birds in North America. It is also believed to be one of the oldest living bird species on earth.

According to Cree legend, Rabbit was admiring the moon and wanted to go there. Rabbit asked the strongest birds to take him, but Eagle was busy and Hawk couldn't fly so high. Wren and Sparrow said that he was too heavy to carry. Crane said he would help. He told Rabbit to hold on to his legs. Then he flew to the moon. The journey was long and Rabbit was heavy. Rabbit's weight stretched out Crane's legs and bloodied Rabbit's paws. But Crane reached the moon, with Rabbit hanging on to him. Rabbit patted Crane in thanks, his paws still bleeding. So this is how Crane got his long legs and his blood-red head.

The bird in the photograph above was carved into the rock in the 800's. With just a few strokes the artist depicted an unmistakable bird. What is the sphere on the lower right? The sun? Moon? Both? It is known that there was a solar eclipse in the year 840, so it is certainly possible that the sphere depicts an eclipse.

You may spot these spectacular birds seasonally at seashores, rocky or sandy open landscapes, and especially around marshes, swamps, and fresh water.

Photograph of two standing sandhill cranes
Majestic sandhill cranes



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