One of the great things about traveling around to different parts of the country is getting to see different plant and animal life. Some I like, some I don’t like, but all are interesting. Wild life abounds in and around the various Thousand Trails and Encore parks we’ve stayed at.
Here in Florida, the Sandhill cranes are everywhere! Flamingos, Herons, Egrets, Eagles and Great Blue Herons are familiar enough, but the Sandhill crane is new to me. They are close in size and shape to a Heron, but unlike the Great Blue Herons I’ve encountered, they have their own agenda and are not particularly curious about humans, nor are they easily intimidated. They go about their business, stalking very close to to me and a our barking Chihuahua, and totally ignoring the both of us. Evidently, Snoopy is too small to be a threat to them – which is a tremendous blow to his ego. He is used to making whole flocks of wild turkeys scatter, but the Sandhill cranes just ignore him. They are such fun to watch and their clacking calls sound alien indeed. When they take flight, it is awesome – their wings are so powerful that you can hear them “whuff” as they lift off.
Here are few facts about the Sandhill Crane from the Southwest Florida Wild Life Management website:
“Florida Sandhill cranes are long-legged, long-necked, gray, heron-like birds with a patch of bald, red skin on top of their heads. Florida’s Sandhill cranes are a threatened species that are found in inland shallow freshwater marshes, prairies, pastures and farmlands. Sometimes they can be seen on lawns throughout Florida. They are sensitive birds that do not adjust well to changed environments and high human populations.
Sandhill cranes are usually seen in small family groups or pairs. However, during the winter, Florida’s Sandhill crane population increases as cranes from northern states spend the winter in Florida. Unlike other wading birds, such as herons, Sandhill cranes do not “fish.” The voice of the Sandhill crane is one of the most distinctive bird sounds in Florida. This “call of the wild” has been described as a bugling or trumpeting sound, and can be heard for several miles. Florida Sandhill cranes stay with the same mate for several years and young Sandhills stay with their parents until they are about 10 months old. Like their endangered relatives the whooping cranes, Sandhills live to be older than most birds. In fact, some Sandhill cranes live up to 20 years.”