Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Precious Moments with Sandhill Crane Colts

Thanks to my friend Michael, I went to Viera Wetlands last weekend to photograph a pair of Sandhill Crane colts.  They were just precious!  Our friend Debbie drove up from South Florida and we joined a few other photographers in admiring the young family.  It was the first time I’ve photographed a pair of colts at the nest.  Often only one colt survives.  Both of these colts seemed strong and feisty.  We had such a great morning watching them.

Run to Mom!
Run to Mom!

When we first arrived, the adult crane was lying on the nest and had both chicks tucked under her wing.  Before long, a colt popped out.  He ventured to the edge of the nest, checked out his surroundings, and then decided to make a dash for Mom’s neck.  He was so cute!  The still photos just didn’t capture the joyful run or the thrust onto Mom’s back.  A few clicks in Photoshop merged the shots to show the progression…much better!

Mom eventually tucked her little charge under her wing and went back to sleep.  Dad was off foraging in the distance, and eventually disappeared for a while.  So Mom wasn’t anxious for her colts to wake up too early.  Besides, it was chilly and breezy that morning, good reasons for colts to stay warm under Mom.   But colts get restless, and it wasn’t long before they made an appearance together…

Double Trouble
Double Trouble

I’ve often observed colts fighting with each other, but I’ve never seen them fighting in Mom’s wings before!  Too funny!

Squabble in the Wings
Squabble in the Wings

Actually, small Sandhill Cranes can be quite brutal with each other.  They wrestle and peck at each other, and really, it’s “survival of the fittest.”  These guys were less vicious than some.

Like Mother, Like Daughter
Like Mother, Like Daughter

I thanked the cool breeze, which definitely gave us more “on the nest time” than I expected.  Usually the birds get up and start foraging for breakfast as soon as the colts awake.  Instead, we got to see the second colt playing Peek-a-boo while the first colt explored.

Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo – Look closely under Mom’s wing to see the baby colt

Then the colts played together on top of the nest.  They stretched their tiny stub-let wings and reminded me that in a few short months, they will be as tall as their parents and make their first flights.

One Day We'll Fly!
One Day We’ll Fly!

Finally, though, the babies started to take matters into their own beaks.  They were hungry!  They continually reached for Mom’s beak, begging for a morsel.  She pulled out a bit of eggshell for one and a small bug for the other, but no, that wasn’t doing the trick.  Where are the worms and bugs, Mom?

Is It Breakfast Time Yet?
Is It Breakfast Time Yet?

Dad came back and joined the family as they left the nest and began foraging in the marsh.  I hoped they would come close and maybe hang out in the clean grass (i.e. with a good background!) Alas, they had no interest in fulfilling a photographer’s desires.   But before I left, one of the babies did extend me an invitation…

Wanna Play in the Mud?
Wanna Play in the Mud?

Watching Sandhill Cranes is one of the best parts of springtime photography.  The gentleness of the adults, the cuteness of the colts…there’s something so exquisitely sweet about each family of birds.  Still photographs don’t always do it justice.  So to close out this blog post, here’s a video of a few more precious moments!

8 thoughts on “Precious Moments with Sandhill Crane Colts

  1. LOVE it !!! That was so much fun! Adorable beyond words, they were. Loved the video too. I have a feeling that the last part might have been silent due to me squealing with joy. LOL So glad that you guys had me come up. :-)

  2. You should copyright your picture of the baby sandhill crane looking quizzically at you and sell it as a poster, on mugs, etc. It’s a GREAT picture :) I laugh every time I look at it.

Comments are closed.