Sandhill Crane Flight School

Friday, May 15, 2020

 

The stately Sandhill Cranes are a protected species in Florida.  It is quite common to see highway traffic halt while a pair of Sandhills leisurely cross the road.  With little to fear, the Sandhills have become very friendly!  They often wander through our yards and along our sidewalks.

These two Sandhills came by our back patio just to say,
These two Sandhills came by our back patio just to say, “Hi.”

 

Sandhills are monogamous and they mate for life, although divorces have been observed on occasion.  They will raise one brood a year.  The chicks, usually referred to as colts, remain with their parents for 10-12 months before grouping with other juveniles and then finding their own mates around the age of two years.

Sandhills enjoy a close family bond.
Sandhills enjoy a close family bond.

 

These are large birds.  They will grow to heights of 2 ½ to 4 ½ feet and weigh about 10 pounds.  Their wingspan is impressive:  5 ½ to 7 ½ feet.  They are soaring birds and use thermals to remain aloft for hours at a time with only occasional wing flapping.

Just look at that wingspan!!!
Just look at that wingspan!!!

 

The colts begin flight training when they are 1 to 2 months old.

Both parents are involved in the training and raising of the colts.
Both parents are involved in the training and raising of the colts.
Sandhill Flight School
Sandhill Flight School is in Session
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Under parental supervision, the colts will practice take-off and landing skills.
This is serious business!!! The colts pay attention.
This is serious business!!! The colts pay attention.
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Even when class is over, the colts will continue to practice and test their wings.
This colt is flexing a wing even while she hunts for food with Dad.
This colt is flexing a wing even while she hunts for food with Dad.

By the end of Summer, when they are about 6 months old, they will be fully operational and flying on a regular basis with their parents.

By the end of summer, they will be fully flight qualified and ready to migrate.
By the end of summer, they will be fully flight qualified and ready to migrate.

To witness this training session was an awesome experience.  The Sandhills are impressive birds to begin with and will capture attention and affection every time they come by.  But to see how they communicate and interact as a family unit; how they care for and teach and raise their children to be successful adults was amazing.  We watched them, right in our backyard, for a long time and must have taken a gazillion pictures!

Just had to share.  Hope you enjoyed the photos!!!

3 thoughts on “Sandhill Crane Flight School”

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