Spinning Tales about the Florida sandhill crane
Charlotte's Web-Spinning Tales
The Florida sandhill crane, a subspecies, is a year-round resident. The common name is derived from favored habitats in sand hills.
The crimson patch of skin on its forehead and the long bill, neck and legs distinguish this large gray bird. The female is slightly smaller.
Life expectancy is 20 years, however habitat destruction is a threat to its survival. An opportunistic feeder, it frequently seeks roots, seeds, insects or snakes in local yards and wetlands. Its presence is often disclosed by piercing trumpet-like calls, such as unison calling between mates. Vocalization is also combined with energetic courtship dancing displays.
Nesting extends from December to August. A mat-like nest made of dominant vegetation is generally built in wetlands; a nest established on dry land is simpler.
One brood is produced yearly. Typically, two eggs are laid. Thirty days later, precocial chicks are born — eyes open, covered in down and able to leave the nest in 24 hours. The older often intimidate the younger and parents must intervene.
The small family group can be observed foraging and roaming — often stopping traffic. In approximately 10 months, a chick is independent. After two years, it might find a mate; such a pair is monogamous and sometimes mated for life.
The Ralph M. Williams Jr. Elementary School recently held a photo contest for the sandhill crane, their mascot and campus resident. As with the Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards student participants, hopefully these students will continue to respect and enjoy wildlife throughout their lives.
Danielle Haddox, third grade, won honorable mention for Cutest Baby Crane. For the past three years, this nature photographer observed a pair of sandhill cranes nesting along the Viera Golf Course waterway behind her house. She documented a chick from hatchling to toddler, using her father’s Canon camera. Perseverance.
Kudos to the winners (and all who participated).
Anthony, Third Grade
Title: Birds in the Backyard
Best Crane Photo
Elena Kailani Juarez, Kindergarten
Title: Strolling Down the Street
Best Family Crane Photo
Owen Kaufman, First Grade
Title: Afternoon Visitors
Gorgeous Moment in Nature
Andy Fernandez, Second Grade
Cutest Baby Crane
Ronnie Peters, Second Grade
Title: Mom and Babies
Honorable Mention Cutest Baby Crane
Danielle Haddox, Third Grade
Title: Motherly Love
Most Clever Title
Angelina Dominguez-Smith, Fourth Grade
Title: You sure the PTO meeting is today?