How to Find Nesting Florida Sandhill Cranes
Now is a great time to search for nesting Florida sandhill cranes. Most Floridians know that cranes are cherished members of our communities since so many can be found in our urban areas. They are very social birds during the off season congregating in large groups but pair up for nesting season. Many cranes are currently sitting on nests and some clutches have already hatched. As you are driving through your neighborhoods, take the time to scan the nearby ponds and lakes for cranes sitting on nests. You may also find adults feeding colts (baby cranes) right in the grass on the side of the road.
Sandhill Cranes are quite easy to spot because they are such large birds usually standing up to 4ft tall. They also have a red, heart-shaped crown which stands out like a red flag. When you spot a nest, look for little orange fuzzballs. The female lays between 1-3 eggs (usually 2) and will incubate for an average of 30 days. The best time to witness and photograph the cranes is right after the eggs hatch because the family stays near the nest. The
chicks become active soon after hatching, so you may well witness the chicks sparring, popping in and out of the adult’s feathers or even swimming. Within a week, the family will be walking several miles a day foraging and feeding the young. If you discover an active nest, it’s best to keep a safe distance and allow the birds to get become accustomed to your presence.