Sandhill Cranes

very young sandhill craneI’ve been following the growth of the baby sandhill cranes this past month.  They were late arriving and I assume the cranes just postponed nesting and breeding since we had several freezes in Central Florida.  Maybe they had eggs in February like the previous year, but lost them to the cold weather.  I’ve been here for five winters and this was our first freeze.  Anyway in March, there were finally little fuzzballs following the parent cranes around.  Our pair of cranes surprised us with twins this year.

I took lots of photos whenever they came by the house.  Guess I’m the crane version of paparazzi.  When the babies were really small, I’d hear the parents making a purring kind of noise in their throats.  This might have helped keep the babies close to them or it might have been a warning sound to me to keep back.  When a parent would raise its head to full height and look directly at me, I figured it was time to back away.

Now that the babies are more in their pre-teen stage (no feathers yet), the parents let me get closer with the camera.  They are hungry little fellows, quick to pluck a grub away from the parent who pecked around in the sandy soil to bring it up.  It seems this year that the cranes are making pretty deep holes to bring up the grubs and making quite a mess of the golf course fairways.  I’m careful when hitting the golf ball as I’d sure hate to hit one of the little guys.  A golf ball at full speed could be lethal.

Here are some photos of the baby cranes (I have my full album on Webshots if you want to see them all).

baby sandhill crane feeding


Sandhill Cranes & New Babies

We feel so privileged to see the sandhill cranes daily around Solivita and in our backyard.  This spring, the arrival of the new chick seemed about a month late.  We thought it was due to the extra cold weather we had this winter, but worried that something had happened to the eggs.  There are coyotes around, also alligators, bobcats and even panthers.  The last week or so, we kept seeing a single adult crane so we hoped that meant the other crane was nesting.

Yesterday, we saw the new chick on its first outing.  Wait a minute, there are two chicks!  Wow, our crane pair had twins this year.   I admired them through the binoculors from across the lake.  I hope my neighbors over there don’t think I’m a peeping tom.

Today they brought the twins over to our side of the lake.  I ran out with my digital camera and snapped lots of photos.  Even though they stay pretty calm and let me get within about 6 or 7 feet, my pictures weren’t the best.  I get so excited, that at first I forgot to put it in the action mode to minimize blurring from the moving cranes.  Then I wasn’t holding the camera as steadily as I should.  Some were good shots though.  I’m glad the cranes tolerate my paparrazi behavior so well.  sandhill crane and babies

Here’s a link to the 500 photos (not kidding) that I took of the 2008 baby crane.    I’ll start a new album for the 2009 twin cranes.