Sandhill Crane baby 2009
A Sandhill Crane family has lived at our golf club for several years. Each year they produce one or two babies. This year, even with two eggs in the huge nest, only one hatched. The crane family lives on the back 9 and a crane couple that just found each other this summer, live on the front 9. For the most part, they keep to their own half of the golf course.
This is mom on the nest at the edge of the water between the 6th and 13th fairways. Date is April 30. I don't know if she stayed on the nest the whole time and dad brought groceries, or if dad took his turn while she foraged.
Unless you see them together, you can't differiate between them. Is that crane big enough to be the dad or small enough to be mom.......
Born around May 1, the crane baby made a long awaited entrance on May 7, walking along the shore with her very protective mother. At right, May 12, and she's already grown a few inches. I'm referring to this baby as a she, because as I put this together on Aug. 24, she is still just shy of being taller than the mother. Given that, I'm assuming the baby is female, as the male would probably be taller than mom at this time. The baby's father is also very tall.
Picture at left taken May 23. Dad was afraid I was getting too close so he tried to "scare" me away. Actually I was not even close because I'm using the zoom on my camera, but you know new parents! At right, June 9, the baby is over a month old now and growing every day. The majority of their day is spent roaming the golf course and eating almost constantly.
Speaking of eating -- this photo was just a very lucky shot of the kid with her grub dessert. Oh, yum! In all the times I've taken their pictures I've never again had a chance at a shot like this. Picture on the right is the kid with mom.
It's now June 11 and she has lost most of her baby fuzz. She still has a bit of a fuzzy tail. And, her face has yet to show any of the red coloring of the parents.
It's now June 21 and the youngster is searching for food in the creek. At right, though, is a good comparison of the young and old faces. That deep, dark heartshaped red marking is on both parents. This is dad. I do believe she has a worm in her mouth. Look closely.
It's still June 21 and the youngster's tail feathers have just a smidgen of fuzzy left. She's growing up fast. June 25th picture at right is of all three apparently looking for food in the same place. I just like the composition of the picture.
On July 5, the baby is looking more like a teenager. As you can see by the tail feathers, all the fuzzy stuff is gone. One more sign of maturity.
However, after these pictures were taken, the crane family disappeared from the golf course. No one saw them for several weeks. Until suddenly, on August 18th, they were back between the 6th and and 13th fairways.
August 18 - This doesn't look as serious as you may be thinking. Cranes don't eat fox and fox know just how sharp those beaks are. This fox just wanted to get back to his den. He would circle, very slowly, sitting down in between movements, until he got around the trio.
It's August 22 and father and daughter are enjoying some closeness while they forage for those delectable grubs and worms.
Still no sign of red markings on her face.
Mom and dad invited themselves to dinner on someone's patio along the par 3, 14th hole. Dad seems to be checking on occupants of the home, while mom seems more concerned about the strange creature that seems to be leaning again the home. "Black metal cat" is probably not in her répertoire.
At the end of 2009, the family left the golf course again. We haven't seen the youngster since, although by now (April 2010) he's probably sporting a red hair cut, too. Currently on the course we have a single crane on the back 9 who stops by to eat every day. And, recently, on the front 9, a crane couple appeared. Whether they are the same cranes from last year or not, we just can't tell. The ponds are too full for nest-building after the unusually heavy winter rains central Florida received. If babies are incubating somewhere, it's not on the golf course. Whether or not they will turn up later in the spring is, of course, unknown.