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Sandhill Crane Chick born on NRCS Restored Wetland

6/13/2018 9:15 am

We’ve got some exciting news!

I was out in the prairie below the house this morning and spooked up two majestic Sandhill Cranes which is always a thrill but what came next was even better. I continued up the trail towards the house and came across a pretty good-sized tan colored chick. The first thing that flashed in my mind was “How did one of Charlotte’s chicks get way out here” but then I saw the legs and made the connection. It was a Sandhill Crane chick!

The parents had landed about 100 yards away and were making a racket. I grabbed my camera and took a few quick pictures and skedaddled to minimize my intrusion. We’ve been hoping for Sandhills to nest here since we build our wetlands and planted prairie some 20+ years ago. While they have been regular but somewhat infrequent visitors over the years we’ve always been disappointed.

If you are not familiar with Sandhill Cranes they are big birds, standing up to 4 feet tall. Bigger even than Great Blue Herons. They raise one brood per year usually in April or May building their nest in a marsh or other wetland though occasionally an upland. Females lay one to three eggs which both parents incubate for about 30 days. The chicks are precocial meaning they hatch covered in down, with their eyes open, and able to leave the nest within a day. The parents brood the chicks for up to three weeks after hatching, feeding them intensively for the first few weeks, then gradually less frequently until they reach independence at 9 to 10 months old.

The chicks remain with their parents until one to two months before the parents lay the next clutch of eggs the following year, remaining with them 10–12 months. After leaving their parents, the chicks form nomadic flocks with other juveniles and nonbreeders. They remain in these flocks until they form breeding pairs at between two and seven years old.

Exciting day at Prairie Winds Nature Farm – I can hardly stand it!

(Prairie Winds Nature Farm gave permission to share this post from their Facebook Page on 6/14/2018.)

To learn more about NRCS Wetland Restoration programs visit their website or contact your local District Conservationist Deborah Knepp at 574-936-2024 Ext. 4.

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