Do you recall the scene from Mary Poppins where the candidate nannies are all lined up outside the home, then a strong wind blows them all away and lofting down from the sky is Mary Poppins?

In case you need a refresher: 


We have it from an inside source, that the Sandhill Crane was the inspiration behind this scene.

Can you see the similarity to the nannies being blown away?

The Sandhill Crane is not a small bird, but rather a tall bird upwards of 4 feet hight with stork like legs. They weigh in at 10-12 pounds (think “healthy turkey size), and when they lift off, they have a wingspan of nearly 7 feet. In the evenings they collect and roost in shallow water for protection against predators (e.g., coyotes). In the mornings when the sun warms them, they take off for the corns fields to feed during the day. 

On our first evening, we watched dozens of birds come in from the fields. They landed in singles and in small groups into the marsh in front of us. Legs and toes spread, they seemed to say, “Look out, here I come”. 

Look out below….

Ready or not, here I come.

Arriving late by moonlight, landing gear down.

Early the next morning, we waited for their takeoff. They would line up and slowly march forward, the leader would then lean forward and wait poised for take-off. Then if clearance was received from the tower, the bird would make the most awkward jump, launch itself into the air, flap like crazy to gain altitude and then slowly soar over the water to the fields beyond.

“Lead Crane to tower, I’m Ready for takeoff”

“Lead Crane, this is the tower, you are cleared for launch.”

Landing gear up.

In the water with the soft light of early morning or late evening, the bird can seem  almost elegant.

Discussing the highlights of the day.

Looking warily to the sky.

From awkward umbrella like landings to the evenings where they are quite put together, we can see how the Sandhill Crane’s motions were the inspiration for Julia Andrews in Mary Poppins. 

And for those of you who enjoyed Mary Poppins the first time around, the new flick by Disney is due out this Christmas. Believe it or not, Dick Van Dyke makes a return appearance.

Once again, it’s about the light that lends elegance to these otherwise awkward birds.


To learn more about SandHill Cranes (one of the oldest birds from prehistoric times) visit the Rowe Audubon site: