Snowbirds heading north will miss something year-round Villagers have come to love, the birth and toddler days of baby Sandhill Cranes.
Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round.
Sandhill Cranes build their nests from the dominant vegetation—such as cattails, sedges, burr reeds, bulrushes, or grasses—using dried plant materials early in the season and adding green materials later on. To a foundation of larger materials they add a cup-shaped hollow lined with smaller stems or twigs. Both mates may gather material, tossing it over their shoulders to form a mound. The female is usually the one to stand on the mound and arrange the material. Nests may be 30-40 inches across and 4-6 inches high; those built over water are larger than those built on dry land.
Villages photographer Ron Clark has spent hours watching Sandhill Cranes and captured this amazing video in The Villages:
Sandhill Crane chicks can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching, and are even capable of swimming.
Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching. They then leave to make a life of their own.
And fortunately for Villagers who love watching Sandhill Cranes, the story starts all over again.