How to Find Nesting Florida Sandhill Cranes

 

How to Find Nesting Florida Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane Sitting on Nest

Sandhill Crane Sitting on Nest

Now is a great time to search for nesting Florida sandhill cranes.  Most Floridians know that cranes are cherished members of our communities since so many can be found in our urban areas.  They are very social birds during the off season congregating in large groups but pair up for nesting season.  Many cranes are currently sitting on nests and some clutches have already hatched.  As you are driving through your neighborhoods, take the time to scan the nearby ponds and lakes for cranes sitting on nests.  You may also find adults feeding colts (baby cranes) right in the grass on the side of the road.

Sandhill Cranes are quite easy to spot because they are such large birds usually standing up to 4ft tall.  They also have a red, heart-shaped crown which stands out like a red flag.  When you spot a nest, look for little orange fuzzballs.  The female lays between 1-3 eggs (usually 2) and will incubate for an average of 30 days.  The best time to witness and photograph the cranes is right after the eggs hatch because the family stays near the nest.  The

Brand New Sandhill Crane Family

Brand New Sandhill Crane Family

chicks become active soon after hatching, so you may well witness the chicks sparring, popping in and out of the adult’s feathers or even swimming. Within a week, the family will be walking several miles a day foraging and feeding the young.  If you discover an active nest, it’s best to keep a safe distance and allow the birds to get become accustomed to your presence.

Our Florida sandhill cranes are quite tame.  This is great for bird watchers and photographers but not so great for the cranes because many are killed by cars as they forage on the sides of roads or while attempting to cross them.  Cranes can become quite aggressive with humans due to feeding which has led to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission making it illegal to feed them.  So, please remember not to feed the sandhill cranes if you are lucky enough to find a nest or family and use caution when approaching them.
For those wishing to view more wildlife images, feel free to visit:  Marina Scarr Photography.
Beak-to-Beak

Beak-to-Beak

Sandhill Crane Colts -  Sibling Rivalty

Sandhill Crane Colts – Sibling Rivalty

Sandhill Crane Feeding Colt

Sandhill Crane Feeding Colt

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