Less than 24 hours after watching a tiny Sandhill Crane colt hatch, and after watching them wake up the following morning, I was back at the nest in the evening to say goodnight to the little family. I found them walking around in the grassy area adjoining the nest. The parents were finishing feeding the babies, and from the looks of it, the babies had a nice long walk that day through the tall seedy grasses! Both colts were absolutely covered in seed pods. They were simply adorable. :)
The colts were clearly a little tired after their first full day of life. They would plop down in the grass to rest while Mom and Dad continued to forage for food. How convenient when Mom hands you a nice bug and you don’t even have to get up!
As the sun started to set, the parents headed back across the water “moat” to the nest. The babies plunged into the pond vegetation to follow their parents. The path wasn’t long — just a good long step or two for an adult Sandhill Crane — but for the day-old colts, it was a bit of a trek to reach the safety of their nest.
I expected the colts to collapse from exhaustion, but no, apparently sunset is playtime hour! The older chick started attacking his younger sibling. Sometimes it seemed to be a two-sided game, and other times, it was a little aggressive. I got a shot where the older chick has the younger chick’s eyelid in his mouth. The parents were oblivious to the antics of their young offspring, who probably spent half an hour rough-housing while my camera went click-click-click.
Finally Mom lay down, and the babies ran to climb inside her wing. The light was really fading, and Rich was really hungry, so I reluctantly got up to leave. I couldn’t resist looking back one last time as I made my way to the car, and there was a tiny colt yawning “good night!” as he peeked out from Mom’s back. It was so cool to get to quietly observe this little family’s first full day together!!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Sandhill Crane Nest #2?
Check out my Sandhill Crane Nest #2 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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