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Agate is pleased to continue its occasional Short-short Video series with this video by Carl Wegener of duetting sandhill cranes. This year, the birds returned to the St. Croix Valley on schedule in early March to find the season itself off-schedule, with persistent cold temperatures and abundant snow still remaining from one of the snowiest winters on record. According to the International Crane Foundation, duets (also called unison calls) by cranes are performed by pairs to strengthen their bonds and to protect their territories. Carl notes that a bird of prey was flying overhead as he was filming this video. Whatever the purpose, the calls of sandhill cranes are among the most marvelous and memorable sounds in nature. It’s a sound that more Minnesotans are now able to hear, since the species has made an incredible comeback from lows in the 1940s, expanding its range from population centers in the east-central and northwestern parts of the state.
Thanks to Carl for sharing his video with Agate’s faithful readers/viewers. Bet you can’t watch just once!
About the Videographer
Carl Wegener grew up on the southern shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, MI, later earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University. He has lived in Stillwater, MN since 1994. He and his wife, Cathy, have three daughters and two grandsons.
Carl recalls his first experiences in photography: “My interest in photography started while growing up in Michigan. We had one camera store in town, and when I passed the store’s front window I would pause and marvel at the buttons, knobs, and lenses sticking out of the cool looking devices on display. It wouldn’t be until my early twenties, just after getting married in 1977, that I was able to purchase my first film camera. Self-taught, I was a casual/hobbyist photographer for decades until digital cameras came out. I turned into a serious photography enthusiast using my home computer to complete the cycle of taking, editing, printing, and posting images online.”
“My favorite shooting location now is walking distance from our house. Located just a few miles south of Marine, our home has access to the St. Croix River, farm country, wetlands and mature forests. During deer season and through the winter I ride the farm fields which the farmers’ harvest has turned into large rodent and bird feeders. Using my car as a mobile bird blind I find birds of prey as photo subjects sitting in trees along the fence lines. Whether it is at home or another nearby location, my shooting strategy is to seek out nature’s beauty and capture images in a way that makes them interesting.”
When he retired, he started a program called Recycle Your Camera for Kids, which repurposes gifted cameras for use in beginning photography classes designed for students 9-14 years old.
“Because most camera owners are using their cell phones as their primary image capture device, there is an abundance of digital cameras that can be recycled into this program,” says Carl. “Each student receives a digital camera of their choice to own, so they can keep shooting photos even after the class ends.” He has taught classes through the Marine Mills Folk School, 4-H, a local elementary school, and a photo club in partnership with the Landfall Youth Center. In class descriptions, Wegener describes the cameras as a bonus, gifted through the kindness of others. He invites people with inquiries about gifting a camera to email him at Carl@RecycleYourCamera.com.
The program is now five years old and has survived through the pandemic serving students online, and according to Carl is soon to be registered as an LLC business set-up as a low profit, educational organization for social good. “Most recently, I am in the process of exporting the program overseas to serve displaced Ukrainian students,” he notes, “with support from the city of Scandia, MN and its sister city Mellerud, Sweden.” See examples of his past students’ work from the Landfall photo club and from Marine Mills Folk School, and information on an upcoming intergenerational June class.
His aim is to teach young photographers to see the world’s beauty around them, says Carl. “Once learned it cannot be unlearned and will last a lifetime.”
About Agate’s Short-short Video Series:
We’re inviting you, our readers and subscribers, to send in your own favorite “slice of life” videos taken in nature to be showcased on Agate. Capture scenes and sounds from nature where you live or when you’re out adventuring in wild places in Minnesota and the surrounding Great Lakes region. Rules are few: please keep length to 1:30 minutes or less, and size less than 20 MB. Aim for sharp images and clear sound, and take care not to disturb wildlife. Iphone videos are fine. Email your video to Agate at email@example.com, with “Short-short Video” in the subject line. Tell us a little bit about yourself (include a photo!) and provide a short description of the video. We’re excited to see your submissions and to get to know the Agate community.