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Sand Hill Cranes

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Sand Hill Cranes are both migratory and resident birds here in Florida.  I recently saw several Sand Hill Cranes in the fresh water marshy grasslands of the Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville, Florida.  These huge light grey birds walk upright while browsing the grasslands for grains, worms, and snails.  These handsome birds have a red patch above their bill, and up between their eyes.

Sand Hill Cranes are really neat to see when they are flying.  I had a pair fly right overhead when I was at the park.  In one photo I took, a pair of Sand Hill Cranes is looking up.  That happened right when a hawk flew by.  There were several hawks around that day.  I took these pictures on December 16, 2013.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

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Comments on: "Sand Hill Cranes" (11)

  1. big dangling feet. 🙂

    • Hi Theresa, I looked up and saw a pair of the cranes fly low and slow right over me. Having my long zoom on the camera meant that I had to wait a little bit before I could take their picture and have a focused picture. So, that is what I did. Very thrilling!

  2. That’s really cool to see them! That marsh is a treasure!

    • Hi Montucky, Yes, it is a treasure and very accessible from Gainesville (about 20 miles N. of this state park) and I-75 plus a FL state highway (where we stopped). Many birds can be seen from the overlook. I have been told wild horses, alligators and even a herd of bison are also in this park. Who knows? Have a wonderful day today!

  3. I would LOVE to have one fly over me! It would be a mystical experience

  4. Great shots of the Sandhill Cranes, they are beautiful. They do look a little funny with the dangling legs. Have a happy day!

    • Hi Eileen, Yes, I agree – Sandhill Cranes are very gangly and awkward looking when heading in for a landing. Funny and yet beautiful at the same time. Glad I saw these birds here. I had been looking forward to seeing some here in FL. Close to my home (35 +- miles away) works well for me. Have a great day!

  5. Hi All, I have read that sometimes the Sandhill Cranes do have a bit of rusty brown or mustard yellow coloring on their feathers in patches. This is because sometimes the birds are in areas with high levels of iron in the soil and they basically get “Rust” on their feathers. Imagine! Just a tie-bit of trivia for you.

  6. The top photo is just beautiful. We’ve only seen them at barely larger than speck distance, so no photos for us worth anything. You are blessed to see them so close. This was one bird we did not get to see this year. Maybe we’ll have to travel to Central Nebraska to witness the migration.

    I read some place the adults smear the mud on themselves as part of their breeding rituals, but maybe I am wrong ??

    • Hi Birding Bunch, Sounds like it’s a most probable way that the Sand Hill Cranes get that rusty muddy color on themselves. Hope you do get to see the Sand Hill Cranes up close. Most of the ones at this park were pretty far off. I did get totally lucky by having the pair swoop over where we were standing. Have a fantastic day tomorrow and thank you so much for your helpful comments!

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