The Sandhill Cranes of Gibsonton, Florida

Gibsonton Travel Blog

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I was just riding to a Friend's & There They Were

The Sandhill Crane (Grus Canadensis de Old School) is a large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird references habitat like that of the Old School Canal Sandhill’s in the American South.

Adults are gray overall; during breeding, the plumage is usually much worn and stained, particularly in the migratory populations, and looks nearly ochre. They have a red forehead, white cheeks and a long dark pointed bill. They have long dark legs which trail behind in flight and a long neck that is kept straight in flight. Immature birds have reddish brown upper pants and gray underpants. The sexes look alike except when dress for formal occasions. Size varies among the different subspecies.

2 You always see 2 together
 The male is most time the larger of the two, but not always, there are some Big Mama Cranes out there.  This crane frequently gives a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style "r" rolled in the throat.  
 http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/audio/Sandhill_Crane.html
Special Thanks to Recordist: Marian P. McChesney
© 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
MLNS Catalog number: 2764

The Old School Sandhill Crane's large wingspan (up to 6 1/2 feet) makes this a very skilled soaring bird similar in style to hawks and eagles. Utilizing thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings and consequently expending little energy. With migratory flocks containing 100's of birds or more, they can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air (thermals) which they ride.

Three subspecies are resident; pulla of the Gulf Coast of the U.

S., pratensis of Florida and Georgia and nesiotes of Cuba.  The northern populations exist as fragmented remains in the contiguous U.S. and a large and contiguous population from Canada to Beringia. These migrate to the southwestern United States and Mexico. This crane is a rare vagrant to China, South Korea and Japan and a very rare vagrant to western Europe.
Head of Red

Six subspecies have been recognized in recent times:

  • Lesser Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis canadensis
  • Cuban Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis nesiotes ��" ESA: Endangered
  • Florida Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis pratensis��"de Old School ESA: Endangered
  • Mississippi Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis pulla ��" ESA: Endangered
  • Canadian Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis rowani
  • Greater Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis tabida

Their breeding habitat is marshes and bogs in central and northern Canada, Alaska, part of the Midwest and Southeastern United States, Siberia and Cuba.

Lookinf for Food
They nest in marsh vegetation or on the ground close to water. The female lays two eggs on a mound of vegetation, but it is rare that both chicks hatch and grow to independence. Cranes mate for life; both parents feed the young, called "colts", who are soon able to feed themselves. The Old School Sandhill Crane does not breed until it is two to seven years old, and the average generation time is 12.5 years.   It can live up to 25 years in the wild; in captivity it has been known to live more than twice that span. Mated pairs stay together year-round except for individual TB Meet-Ups and migrate south as a group with their offspring.

Eggs and nestling cranes are eaten by crows, ravens, canids, hawks, eagles, and raccoons.

Male Or Lady Sandhill Crane??
Adult cranes are preyed on by foxes, coyotes, eagles, wolves, bobcats, and large owls. When approached by an avian predator, Sandhill Cranes will fly at the predator, kicking at it with their feet. When aware of a mammalian predator, Sandhill Cranes move toward the predator with their wings spread and their bill pointed at the predator. If the predator persists, Sandhill Cranes will attack, hissing, stabbing with their bills and kicking with their feet while they scream “I’ll Kick You As- you SOB!!   The Cranes tend to be more aggressive while protecting their young.

These birds forage while walking in shallow water or in fields, sometimes probing with their bills. They are
omnivorous, eating insects, aquatic plants and animals, rodents, seeds and berries. Outside of the nesting season, they forage in large flocks, often in cultivated areas. In many western states and provinces of Canada, Sandhill Cranes are hunted during waterfowl seasons.
Who Me?
The meat is reportedly among the better-tasting game birds.

The Florida subspecies is often seen in residential yards, and these birds seem little afraid of human approach. These visitors will eat shelled corn and commercially purchased bird seed from the ground and from feeders. They may be seen in yards in north-central Florida virtually year-round, often in pairs that may be accompanied by a juvenile.

Though the Sandhill Crane is not considered threatened as a species, the three southernmost subspecies are quite rare. While the migratory birds could at least choose secure breeding habitat, the resident populations could not, and many subpopulations were destroyed by hunting or habitat change. However, initially the Greater Sandhill crane proper suffered most from persecution; by 1940 probably fewer than 1,000 birds remained. They have since increased greatly again, though with nearly 100,000 individuals they are still less plentiful than the Lesser Sandhill Crane, which numbers over 400,000 individuals, making the species the most plentiful crane alive today.

The Florida Old School Sandhill Crane is far less common, with some 5,000 individuals remaining. They are most threatened by habitat destruction and probably depend on human management in the long run. In Florida, it is protected, and if killed, carries a very high monetary penalty. This subspecies is under protection of state and federal law at this time.
YES DEAR
Since the loss of habitat is a somewhat controllable cause of a declining population, habitat preservation is a valuable management measure. The current outlook for the Florida Old School Sandhill Crane, if it can be maintained on the protected habitats, is good. Transplanting wild birds, as well as introducing captive-reared birds into suitable areas where crane numbers are low, appears to be a viable technique in the management of this threatened species. It is hoped that these management strategies, plus continued ecological research, will prevent the Florida Old School Sandhill Crane from reaching a more critical status
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I was just riding to a Friends & …
I was just riding to a Friend's &…
2 You always see 2 together
2 You always see 2 together
2 X 2
2 X 2
Head of Red
Head of Red
Lookinf for Food
Lookinf for Food
Male Or Lady Sandhill Crane??
Male Or Lady Sandhill Crane??
Who Me?
Who Me?
YES DEAR
YES DEAR
Tag Team Feeding
Tag Team Feeding
I need a Drink
I need a Drink
I Would Really Like Some RIBs
I Would Really Like Some RIB's
I Did Hold it for You DEAR
I Did Hold it for You DEAR
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photo by: oldschoolbill