Saturday, December 17, 2005
Winter Birds on South Padre
Fig. 1. Mottled Bucyrus Erie Crane. It's a 1960 Model 25-B.
We’ve seen a few in the past, but the recent flock of cranes on the Island is quite impressive. Being so large, they have difficulty hiding in the brush. You may have seen large birds like the Roseate Spoonbill or the Great Heron or some real cranes like the Whooping Crane or the Sandhill Crane (real rare here), but the strange thing is that all bird lovers hate this kind of crane – in this case the Mottled Bucyrus Erie.
And they seem to be multiplying and Lord love a duck, evolving into towering sky cranes! Here's a couple caught 'in delictico.'
Fig. 2. Two Cranes Mating. Aren't they cute?
What kind of biological niche do these despised cranes inhabit? Well, they are mainly used for installing pylons in the dirt for hurricane protection for coastal homes. These pylons are blasted 12 to 20 feet in the dirt and then connected to the concrete slab so the hurricanes don’t blow the houses and structures out by the roots. “Hey honey, the house got nailed bad but heck, we still got those pylons in the ground and a good slab, yeehaw!”
See, the pylons are pretty useless unless they extend to the second story or higher. Our house was built with telephone poles in 1970 using the old style where the bottom level was a garage and the upper level was living area. In effect, the bottom was a “blow out zone” in the flood zone so why try to tame Mama Nature? So the telephone poles are tied down to the sill plate on the second floor. The new houses though, are not – and why I cannot figure. Their pylons stop at ground zero.
Fig. 3. Red Cockaded Link Belt Crane. Nice rack on this baby!
But I digress. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people making money and building a nice house and doing construction. It is just that our new flock of South Padre Cranes is a little overwhelming.