Last year my friends found a Sandhill Crane family in Casselberry. When I visited, the colts were several weeks old, already getting to their leggy stage. They entertained me with their spider wars. This year I made a trip over there while the babies are still small. They hatched on Sunday, and I went six days later. Compared to the Sandhill Crane colts at the Circle B Bar Reserve, these guys are still pretty small. They were so cute!
When I first arrived, Mom and Dad were taking the babies for a walk down by the pond. They are not nearly as friendly as the babies at Circle B. That’s a good thing – it’s not healthy for birds to be too used to humans. I sat down to watch this family, and they continued their afternoon feeding. The parents were feeding the babies tiny insects they pulled from the grass. They split up a little so that each parent was feeding a colt. The little babies are still small enough that the grasses are taller than they are! My favorite shot was of one of the colts making his way through the grass…
Not long after I arrived, Mom and Dad decided that it was time to take the babies back to the nest for the night. The nest is not far from where I was sitting, but it’s behind a bunch of branches and grasses. Not exactly the nose-to-nose shot that I’ve been dreaming of ever since I saw Ursula’s prize-winning shot! But it was fun to watch the birds interacting on the nest. The smallest baby crawled up under Mom’s wing and stuck his head out. She nuzzled him a little, preened the feathers around him, and then dozed while he napped. Meanwhile, Dad took the bigger chick for a little walk to the edge of the nest area.
I was a little disappointed that the cranes weren’t out in the open for longer. But while I sat and watched the nest, a Yellow-Rumped Warbler rewarded me for my patience. He flew up and posed on the branch right in front of me! I think this is the first good shot I’ve gotten of a Yellow-Rumped Warbler in breeding colors. He’s got a cute yellow cap! And a deformed bill…I read on BirdBrains that a lot of Yellow-Rumped Warblers have deformed bills this year. I wonder why.
Want to learn more about nature photography at Sandhill Crane Nest?
Check out my Sandhill Crane Nest 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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