Dean M. Chriss
Beneath a November Moon, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico
(Click image to enlarge)
Sandhill cranes are the oldest surviving bird species on earth. Like the cycles of the moon, their winter migration is a timeless spectacle of nature. It continues without pause as it has for some 2.5 million years. In their strenuous journey to escape brutal northern winters the cranes travel up to 2500 miles, covering between two and five hundred miles each day. Survivors arrive tired and hungry at their wintering grounds. They are greeted by earlier arrivals with joyous dancing and calls that can be heard a mile away. Their existence depends entirely on this place and those along the way where they rest.
The concept for this image was born while visiting Bosque del Apache eight years prior to successfully executing the idea. This very simple composition links the ageless regularity of the crane's migration with that of the moon's orbit around the earth and through the solar system. The scene appears now much as it did when these migrations were beginning and primitive humans were first learning to use stone tools. The world then was a vast and unbroken wilderness. Today it is anything but, and the changes taking place do not bode well for the birds that fly beneath the November moon.