Peek a Boo (Baby Sandhill Cranes at the Circle B Bar Reserve)


Yesterday I took advantage of my off-Friday morning to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve, where a pair of Sandhill Cranes has been incubating a nest for the last four weeks or so.  I knew the colts were due to be born any time, and I hoped to photograph them interacting on their nest with Mom.  I’ve never seen them so young that they haven’t yet left the nest.  So I was very excited to arrive at the nest on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail and see a peculiar sort of motion in the incubating parent’s back feathers.  It was as if the feathers were being blown about in the wind, yet the breeze was still.  A few minutes later, a small head popped out…

One colt is a little older than the other.  The first colt made his way out of his mother’s feathers, up her back, and then flopped down onto the ground in front of mom.  Despite his tiny size, he fearlessly maneuvered himself through the tall grasses.  Every once in a while, you’d see his wings flap as he tried to keep his balance.  When he successfully circumnavigated his mom, I named him Magellan.  The second colt stayed under Mom, even after Magellan tried to entice him to come out.  But Bashful was happy to stay where it was safe, thank you very much.  But luckily for the gaggle of long-lensed photographers, Mom had to jump up and scare off a neighboring pair of cranes, and she displaced two little colts when she got up.  When she came back, she started feeding the babies.  It got harder and harder to see them as they made their way into the tall grasses.

After losing sight of the colts, we continued up the trail to the Wading Bird Way trail, where a second family of Sandhill Cranes also welcomed a new colt earlier in the week.  I was happy to be able to position myself on a good sun angle to photograph this little colt, who trotted eagerly after his parents, who fed him little spiders as they waded through the marshy vegetation.  He actually got so close that he more than filled my frame, and I had to back up in order to keep taking his picture.  (Isn’t that a nice problem? :))  I love watching baby cranes at this age.  They are so cute!

Want to learn more about nature photography at Circle B Bar Reserve?

Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

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