Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sandhill Cranes

If you have been following my blog, you know I was watching a Sandhill Crane nest, waiting for the chicks (called Colts) to hatch. It turned out there was only one, but I have spent a lot of time watching the family over the past two days.

Here's dad, making his call. It is loud and not all that pleasant.



Mom, with Junior about 3-4 hours after he hatched.



Fluffy little Junior. He kept standing and walking around. Then he would fall down and roll off the nest. Unlike worried, over-protective human parents, they would just wait for him to drag his unhappy butt back onto the nest.



He desperately wanted to climb onto mom's back, but it wasn't until day 2 that he had enough strength and coordination.



This was the first I saw Junior getting fed. Not sure what the food was.



When he wanted to be with mom, he was quite the hugger.



A little game of Where's Junior?



The relationship between the parents and the colt was interesting to watch. They were ever-observant and always protective. However, most of the time they seemed to let him do whatever he felt up to.



I was stunned to see that late on his first day, little Junior was out swimming in the 33 degree water. He got about 30-40 feet from the nest, but was never further than four feet from one of the two parents.



Mom had been off feeding while dad watch Junior on the nest. When she flew in, you got an impression of just how big their wingspan is.



On the morning of day 2, they were venturing a good bit further from the nest. Here's mom watching Junior in the bottom right. They are about 100 yards from the nest.



Then dad flew back in from his brunch. They each seem quite happy taking their shifts with Junior while the other goes off to feed. I couldn't tell any real difference in how the two parents cared for the colt.



It's been fun getting to watch this happen, especially from such a close distance. I'll keep stopping by as long as they hang out in the same general area. I can't imagine ever getting another opportunity like this to photograph these birds.
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