This time the surprises were exceptional!
A pair of adult sandhill cranes and their two chicks were right next to our garage as we pulled in. Instead of getting out and unloading the car as I usually do, I grabbed my camera and began taking pictures.
Below are some of the many shots I took of the new sandhill crane family.
Sandhill cranes lay one or two eggs in a nest of twigs and reeds that both parents build in a protected spot. Once the eggs are laid, the parents take turns incubating them for 32 days.
|Sandhill crane parents take turns incubating eggs
Despite their attentive care, only one egg often hatches and even if two chicks emerge from the eggs, there's a good chance that only one baby bird will survive to adulthood. By the look of how well both of these chicks are learning to find food, I'm hopeful that each bird will make it to maturity.
|A new family of sandhill cranes!
Mom, Dad and two chicks
A sandhill crane's diet consists of grains, berries, seeds, insects, worms, mice, small birds, snakes, lizards, and frogs.
|The chicks rest in the weeds after the tiring work of trailing their parents
Baby cranes stay with their parents for 10 months after hatching but it takes two years before they are sexually mature and ready to mate. During their juvenile stage, they socialize with other young cranes in order to find a mate. Once mates are chosen, sandhill cranes are monogamous and stay together for life.
|Walking by a stand of Hawaiian Gold Clumping Bamboo
|The spider may be a mere snack to an adult sandhill crane
but it's a huge mouthful for a baby to swallow
Baby cranes grow up quickly. Over the years, we've been fortunate to watch many crane chicks go from fluffy, wobbly newborns to gawky adolescents to grown up birds. The chicks that greeted us upon our return to Groveland are very young, less than a week old.
|Two babies. Two parents.
Learning to live.
Learning to love.