S is for Sandhill Crane {Blogging Through the Alphabet}

Welcome back to our Blogging Through the Alphabet journey on the birding trail.

Sandhill Cranes are beautiful, fascinating birds. I find it thrilling every time I see any, no matter how often that may be here in Florida.

Sandhills have an elegance that draws attention. These tall, gray-bodied, crimson-capped birds breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies across North America. They group together in great numbers, filling the air with distinctive rolling cries. Mates display to each other with exuberant dances that retain a gangly grace. Sandhill Crane populations are generally strong, but isolated populations in Mississippi and Cuba are endangered.
Sandhill Cranes stand about 4 feet tall. They mate for life. They may lay 1-3 eggs, but usually only one hatches. The hatchlings can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching, and are even capable of swimming. The juveniles (called colts) stay with their parents until 9-10 months old.
The omnivorous Sandhill Crane feeds on land or in shallow marshes where plants grow out of the water, gleaning from the surface and probing with its bill. Its diet is heavy in seeds and cultivated grains, but may also include berries, tubers, small vertebrates, and invertebrates. Nonmigratory populations eat adult and larval insects, snails, reptiles, amphibians, nestling birds, small mammals, seeds, and berries.
Sandhill Cranes have a wingspan of 5'3"
The Sandhill Crane’s call is a loud, rolling, trumpeting sound whose unique tone is a product of anatomy: Sandhill Cranes have long tracheas (windpipes) that coil into the sternum and help the sound develop a lower pitch and harmonics that add richness.

Sandhill Cranes are known for their dancing skills. Courting cranes stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance.
One time, when we lived in Mississippi, we were on vacation to a resort south of Orlando. I was able to witness the Sandhill Crane dance! That was pretty exciting, and awe-inspiring.

National Geographic: Sandhill Crane Migration
What It's Like to Camp Out With 15,000 Sandhill Cranes
International Crane Foundation/Activity Packets

Please come back next time, for the letter "T."

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