I spend a lot of time in central Florida because I hang glide at the Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding club. Wallaby is located right at the Green Swamp, an area abundant with the Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis)
Central Florida has had some of the fastest growth rates of anywhere in the world and the urban sprawl is visibly taking it’s toll on the wetlands and it’s wildlife. Nowadays you can see the birds in the strip malls that only a few years ago were their marshes. I was going to the post office the other day and there was a crane by the door.
It seems cute and the people from Florida do love the birds and seeing them around, but this is a big problem as the cranes used to nest in these marshes that became home developments, strip malls, supermarkets and such. Even though the Sandhill Crane is not considered to be endangered as a species, the Florida subspecies is, and it is in big trouble. They do not migrate like the parent species and it is estimated that there is only about 5000 birds left.
They are monogamous and you can often see the couples performing their courtship dances or a family with their young chick.
Here is a video that shows this type of performance, it is narrated in Portuguese as I made it many years ago for a Brazilian article. But I did add subtitles in English so everyone can understand it.
The cranes can live up to 21 years and are highly social animals living in families, normally they with families of a couple with 1 or 2 chicks. Sometimes a group of juvenile members will live together after separating from their parents (the raising of the young takes around 10 months).
I observed more cranes than usual at here at the Ranch this year. Perhaps they are a juvenile group plus a family or two. There is probably so may of them together due to the urban sprawl in this area, as it becomes harder and harder for the animals to dwell in the middle of the concrete and buildings.
Here are some of the photographs I made of the cranes this year, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
A Sanhill Crane watches a hang glider being towed at Wallaby Ranch.