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Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes and babies

Sandhill Cranes

Some people do not know what a Sandhill Crane is.  Well, they are very large, tall birds with a long neck, long legs, and very broad wings.  They weigh between 6-14 pounds and stand between 3-5 feet tall.   Their bodies are grey, the forehead and top of the heads are covered with reddish skin and face, chin, upper throat, and nape are white to pale gray, and their legs and toes are black.  The male and female look a lot alike, except males are bigger.

They mate for life, but if one show die, they do find another mate.  They female chooses their partners based on dancing displays. The male birds stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air.   They then build their nests from the dominant vegetation, such as cattails, bulrushes, or grasse, using dried plant materials early in the season and adding green materials later on.  The female lays 1-3 eggs, it takes around 30 day to hatch, but sadly, most of the time only 1 baby makes it to fledging.  I personally think they look like baby chickens with long legs when the are born.  They eat a variety of animals, including frogs, small animals, insects and snakes, along with grains. Adults will often feed the little ones earthworms and grubs.   Mated pairs and their babies stay together all through the winter, until the 9 to 10 month old babies finally separate from their parents the following spring.  They spend their winter in Florida, Texas, Utah, Mexico and California.  The Florida sandhill crane is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and can not be hunted.

So, the next time your in Florida, look for these amazing birds.

Terri

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