A group of sandhill cranes is called a “construction”, among other names.
This year the sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) migration is occurring later than usual. Sandhill cranes spend the winter in Mexico. Some from our area might also overwinter in the Central Valley of California. This year their prehistoric calls filled the air well into October.
The other day Leonard and I saw about a hundred and fifty cranes probing in an alfalfa field near our house. What a sight!! Mated pairs stay together the entire year and spend the summer raising their cinnamon colored chicks. Over the summer we may see small groups but never a large construction. Since sandhill cranes migrate in large groups we probably observed them staging in preparation for their departure. We have not heard or seen any cranes since then, leading us to believe the cranes are on their way to warmer climates.
I attempted to take pictures of the large group with little success. Without being higher than the cranes, the dramatic effect was lost. (I would appreciate any ideas about how to take such a photo.) Instead I am illustrating this post with a picture of two sandhill cranes. Since they were probing for seeds, insects or small vertebrates, you can see the mud on their bills.