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Romance of the Sandhill Cranes

Updated on November 24, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

Florida lifestyle, decorating, and retirement are topics covered by Virginia who shares her own experiences.

The Love Life of a Pair of Sandhill Cranes

I've been documenting the lives of a pair of sandhill cranes for the past three years. Almost daily, they pass behind my house in Florida so I have quite a few opportunities to take pictures. They've gotten used to me and my camera and are pretty nonchalant about my paparazzi behavior. I have hundreds of photos of this pair of cranes and their babies.

Today I happened to be on hand to witness the mating of this pair of cranes. Being the camera buff that I am, I had my Canon Powershot SX20IS in hand. Here are the photos and my notes on their behavior.

If you are ready to explain "the birds and the bees," then you can show this to your children. I'd suggest that you review it first to see if it is age-appropriate. The photos are not very detailed, but consider if you want to explain what the birds are doing (or not).

(all the photos on this page were taken by Virginia Allain)

Romeo Waiting for Juliet - Click on the other photo to see it larger & read the caption

Click thumbnail to view full-size
After calling to the female across the lake, the male stands in the shallow water watching her. Usually we see them already in pairs, but on this day they were separated.He takes time for some grooming.
After calling to the female across the lake, the male stands in the shallow water watching her. Usually we see them already in pairs, but on this day they were separated.
After calling to the female across the lake, the male stands in the shallow water watching her. Usually we see them already in pairs, but on this day they were separated.
He takes time for some grooming.
He takes time for some grooming.

Here Comes Juliet

Here Comes Juliet
Here Comes Juliet
type=text
type=text

Romeo Approaches Juliet

As the male approaches the female, his tail feathers are fluffed up more than is usual.

Keep in mind that these are large birds. When standing tall and stretching their necks upward, they are almost as tall as a person.

Juliet waiting for Romeo

Juliet waiting for Romeo
Juliet waiting for Romeo

The male approaches the female crane

The male approaches the female crane
The male approaches the female crane

Female crane with wings outspread, male crane right behind her

Female crane with wings outspread, male crane right behind her
Female crane with wings outspread, male crane right behind her

The male crane hops onto the back of the female

The male crane hops onto the back of the female
The male crane hops onto the back of the female

Romeo and Juliet mating in a flurry of feathers

Romeo and Juliet mating in a flurry of feathers
Romeo and Juliet mating in a flurry of feathers

It's Quickly over and the Two Cranes Spend Some Time Smoothing Their Feathers

It's Quickly over and the Two Cranes Spend Some Time Smoothing Their Feathers
It's Quickly over and the Two Cranes Spend Some Time Smoothing Their Feathers

The Male Crane Keeping an Eye on Things While the Female Looks for Food

The Male Crane Keeping an Eye on Things While the Female Looks for Food
The Male Crane Keeping an Eye on Things While the Female Looks for Food

The Female Searching for Food

The Female Searching for Food
The Female Searching for Food

Books about Sandhill Cranes

Learn more about the sandhill cranes and their behavior in these books.

The Cry of the Sandhill Crane (Camp & Cottage Birding Collection, 3)
The Cry of the Sandhill Crane (Camp & Cottage Birding Collection, 3)

Intrigued by the Florida sandhill cranes, I wanted to find out more about these stately birds. Steve Grooms' book filled in some of the details about their nests, food, territory, love life, chick rearing, and other habits. Fascinating!

The book also covers the migration of the midwestern cranes and profiles cranes from around the world. The color photos are wonderful. (review by Virginia Allain)

 
Sandy: The Sandhill Crane Who Joined Our Family (Northwest Reprints (Paperback))
Sandy: The Sandhill Crane Who Joined Our Family (Northwest Reprints (Paperback))

The book functions on many levels; as a memoir of an Oregon rancher raising a family, as a history of Klamath ranching, as the story of one crane's survival, and as a plea for conservation. Dayton Hyde rescues an egg from a flood, gets it to hatch and then has a friend for life as the sandhill crane makes itself a member of his growing family.

Many black and white photos through the book show the cranes, the new chicks, and scenes of ranch life. The author describes the animal behavior and their interaction in interesting vignettes. One can't help but learn a lot about nature just from enjoying his accounts. The rescue of the baby porcupines was quite funny.

I'm glad to see it still in print.

(review by Virginia Allain)

 

The Dance of the Sandhill Cranes

It's often called the mating dance, but I've seen them perform this when they are startled by a snake on the ground and another time when I surprised them by making an abrupt movement.

Notice the one crane picking up and tossing a stick as part of the ritual.

On the day when I photographed the cranes mating, I didn't see the cranes dance. He called to her across the lake and she flew over to join him. It was on other occasions that I've seen the dance.

Here's a Sandhill Crane on Its Nest - The Parents Take Turns Sitting on the Eggs

A sandhill crane on a nest on a tiny island in a roadside ditch.
A sandhill crane on a nest on a tiny island in a roadside ditch. | Source

© 2010 Virginia Allain

Have You Seen Sandhill Cranes?

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    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Fascinating! I could happily spend 3 years (and more) watching such wonderful birds. Congrats on your stunning photos

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      5 years ago

      Just fantastic. I really enjoyed your wonderful photos. I wish we lived closer to where Sandhill Cranes lived. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      6 years ago from Washington KS

      Loved your pictures of the cranes. Beautiful lens.

    • profile image

      dandy3 

      6 years ago

      Great photos, thanks for sharing

    • lclchors profile image

      lclchors 

      6 years ago

      love the dance

    • patriciapeppy profile image

      patriciapeppy 

      6 years ago

      awesome photos thanks for sharing.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 

      6 years ago from McLaughlin

      Love the sandhill cranes. I think I have seen them!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I've never seen these cranes in person. Great virtual visit with them. What a great pair of neighbors you have!

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 

      7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      never seen any - great great lens again, just fascinating. Lensrolled

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 

      8 years ago

      Those are beautiful photos. I could watch birds for hours. There is something so serene about them. Thank you for sharing your Sandhill Cranes with us.

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