Karl and I took a drive this past week along a scenic area north of here. The drive led to the Gulf and then followed the coast to varying degrees. We remembered that a few years before we took this route with our birding friends and in the middle of a small pond alongside the road saw a Sandhill Crane on a nest. Since they return to the same area to nest year after year we hoped to find them in the area, and did.
Both parents incubate the eggs, and males and females do not have notable visual characteristics which set them apart, so we don’t know if this is Mother or Father. The nest sits in a stand of grasses in the middle of the water, a perfect site for them. The pond is right next to a side road, and both the pond and the nest visible to passing cars. The mate did not show up while we were there, and the nesting bird looked around but never moved. We stayed only a few minutes, and I took the closer shot using the full 400mm zoom. We would have loved to stay and observe further, but we were concerned about disturbing the bird. Incubation for these cranes is 28 – 30 days so we plan to drive by again in a month and maybe see one or two colts.
Our first encounter with Sandhill cranes occurred while house-hunting for our first house in Florida when Karl’s job transferred him here 25 years ago. A pair of them wandered around the neighborhood and we saw them while looking at a house. The realtor working with us told us all about them and we learned more during the time we lived there.