Cranes … OK, I know that everyone knows that I love bears and now everyone is aware that I love owls as well … but what about cranes? Well, they come in as a very close third place for the attention of my viewfinder and the affection of my heart. Cranes … whether they be sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, Japanese cranes (which incidentally is on a short list for me to photograph one day) … really doesn’t matter, I love them all. So much so that I have crowned myself as an official “craniac”. 😉
So when my good friends, Jess and Michael alerted me of sandhill crane babies, that’s all I needed to hear. I was on my way, this year, with my wallet! (OK, I have been known to leave home without not just my American Express, but my entire wallet!). I was so anxious to get there that I arrived almost an entire hour prior to the roads being open. LOL
It didn’t take long before I found the nest, with one of the parents sitting on it, in the wee early hours of the morning. I got my gear out and waited anxiously for the moment that the baby sandhill cranes, called colts, would pop their heads up from the parents topside back feathers.To my surprise, it was a bit uneventful and unexpected as the first of the pair of colts backed out of the feathers without peeking upwards first. After it backed up a bit, it clumsily fell, then ran back to the protection of the parent.At the point it got the attention of the parent, who undoubtedly felt the other colt getting a bit anxious as well, though still covered up.The colt scurried itself back into the parents protective wings for comfort. See, the other parent was still out foraging and this one wouldn’t get up until it was back in sight. I guess the task of taking care of both of the colts simultaneously and alone was too much of a job to handle. Before long, one colt delighted us by popping its head up … the parent turned to look.Then the second head popped up and they were both vocalizing a bit. At this point, everyone was either silent and taking rapid images … or intermittently taking images and squealing at the same time. Can you guess which one I was? LOLAs with most siblings, there’s always a bit of rivalry going on and the two colts began a bit of a friendly confrontation.The sight of a young newborn colt emerging from the natural featherbed that the parents offer is a sight that I can barely describe when it comes to the joy I feel when witnessing it. “Be still, my heart” is all that I can think.Soon they were both off of the parent and playing together. Sandhill crane eggs generally will hatch, via the colts pip tooth, about a day apart. When hatched, they’re fully feathered and shortly after their drying period, they are able to walk about and even swim. They do need the parents to feed them initially and sandhill cranes make the best parents.Mom and dad communicate with them though gestures and a series of sounds and it always impresses me how quickly the colts learn and tow the line.This pair of colts was so adorable and I really didn’t perceive too much difference in size. It took a while for the other parent to return and the colts were getting a bit antsy.One of my favorite poses with these colts is the interactive poses with their parents. I’m pretty sure that this sandhill crane parent is quite pleased with their newborn colts. Going nose to nose simply pulls at my heartstrings. I think that this colt is trying to its mom or dad that they’re hungry! Staying close to the nest sight and next to the parent the two colts have to settle their need for food and activity until the partner crane shows up.Their young lives are full of learning and fun, but also full of danger. I pray that they will be safe as they grow up…. and have lots more colts of their own one day.
In the meanwhile, I have just one question … does anyone else out there love the cranes and colts as much as I do? If so, annoint yourself as a self-proclaimed “craniac” and join the club! Next up: From the wetlands of Florida to the mountains of Colorado
© 2017 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography