Sandhill Cranes Grow Up Quickly

Posted 2 Comments

Believe it or not, I’m coming to the end of my Sandhill Crane colt saga.  At least for this year. :)  I had intended to photograph my little colts regularly, at least once or twice a week, while they were growing up.  But they had other plans.  As soon as the babies became more mobile, it was harder and harder to find the family of cranes.  The nest was on private property, and I didn’t have permission to leave the vicinity of the nest.  So I only got two more photo ops with the family: hatch day + 5, then hatch day + 3 weeks.  It was amazing how to watch how quickly they grew up!

Sandhill Crane Family: Hatch Day + 5
Sandhill Crane Family: Hatch Day + 5

On the fifth day after hatching, the little colts were considerably larger.  I only got to visit with them a few minutes that morning.  They were too busy looking for breakfast to pay much attention to me.

Sandhill Crane Colts: Day 5
Sandhill Crane Colts: Day 5

Sadly, it was the last time I would photograph both colts.  A few days later, we had some pretty bad rains, and after that, I only saw one baby.  It’s fairly common with Sandhill Cranes that one of the two colts doesn’t survive.  Still, I couldn’t help being a little sad.

Ready to Fly!  (Almost)
Ready to Fly! (Almost)

The next time I saw the birds, the remaining colt was just under three weeks old.  Look at how fast he grew!  He had definitely passed the cute colt phase and gone into the leggy teenager phase.  I stood watching as he stretched his wings, all ready to fly!  Well, at least he thought so.  His little stubby wings had grown and were starting to develop feathers, but it would be another couple of months before he’d really take flight.

Sandhill Crane Colt: 19 Days Old
Sandhill Crane Colt: 19 Days Old

I still see this family pretty regularly, and I’m happy to report that all three birds are doing well.  The baby is as big as Mom and Dad now.  He learned to fly months ago, and he’s fully capable of taking care of himself, although he still occasionally accepts a snack from Mom or Dad.  His face has a pale red crown that is gradually darkening.  He’ll stay with Mom and Dad until February or March, when they will give him the boot as they begin preparing the nest for next year’s babies.  I can’t wait till then! :)

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!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!

2 thoughts on “Sandhill Cranes Grow Up Quickly

  1. How wonderful you were able to keep track of the family even for a short time! The good news is that this story is repeated every year many times over! What magnificent creatures and what a superb series of photographs!

Comments are closed.