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Critter Stories

Grouse in the juniper trees outside Homestead House.
Photo taken by AJ attending a retreat.

Critter Stories

Here are some stories about various birds and wildlife Linda has encountered. Click on the critter listed or just scroll down and read them all. Keep checking back as we'll be adding to these stories.

Photos are labeled as to whether they are free-use photos from the internet or if they were taken by Linda or other folks, on Linda's ranch or elsewhere.


Black-footed Ferret?
Bullsnake robs a nest
Bullsnake fights a hawk
Chukar Partridges invade the ranch
Cottontail Rabbit: baby bunny in the overflow pipe
The resident Coyote
Redtail Hawk misses dinner
Great Blue Heron
Killdeer nests in the garden
Oriole at the Bird Pond
Sharp-Tailed Grouse at Homestead House
Whooping Crane in the pasture?


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Whooping crane
Photo from Saving Cranes website.

Whooping Crane

One early morning in the late 1980s, my father and I and George drove out in the pickup headed over east and saw in the alfalfa field east of the house, near the railroad tracks, a large white bird. We stopped the pickup at once, knowing it was unusual, and looked at it through binoculars.

While we watched, it stood up, and we all gasped because it appeared to be nearly 6 feet tall. One wing was extended, with the tip resting on the ground, and as we watched it extended the other and hopped, as if trying to fly. The tips of the wings were black. We'd all read about how rare whooping cranes were, but we couldn't imagine anything else it could be. I'm not sure we even had a bird identification book at that time.

Slowly we turned the truck and then zipped back to the house, where I called the Game, Fish & Parks-- though perhaps George did that, since we did have a wildlife biologist friend in the Rapid City office. By the time we'd talked to GF&P, and they'd arrived and we drove back out to the field, at least an hour had elapsed. My father wasn't happy about the delay in our work plans for the day, but he was so stunned when it seemed to be clear that the bird really was an injured whooping crane, that he just mumbled.

But when we got back to the field the bird was gone. The GF&P man was initially disappointed, but we searched the area carefully and found no feathers, so we interpreted that to mean the bird was well enough to fly away. We watched the pastures to the south of the house for weeks, but never found any evidence that the bird didn't survive.

After that, I sometimes remembered to take a camera with us on the trips over east-- but usually not.

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