Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard Cranes
The Whooping Crane photo on this page is courtesy of SFWMD
sandhill craneSandhill Cranes are found in inland shallow freshwater marshes, prairies, pastures, farmlands, and lawns. Florida has both resident and migratory populations. The Florida subspecies is slightly smaller and darker than the visiting birds. Many of the migratory birds winter at Paynes Prairie.
Large, bulky nests are usually built over water or on floating vegetation. Usually two eggs are laid. After about 30 days of incubation, the eggs hatch, and within 24 hours, the young leave the nest to follow their parents. They will be able to fly within 2.5 months but won't be on their own until they're about 10 months old.
Sandhill Cranes may feed on cracked corn scattered on the ground. Peanuts may also be taken as they feed on peanut crops.
whooping craneIn 1942, the total Whooping Crane population had been reduced to 22 birds. In 1995, there were 267 -- 133 wild birds that migrate from the Northwest Territories to Texas, 100 in captive-breeding facilities, and 34 in experimental introduced populations. The latest report of a Whooping Crane in Florida was in 1936.
In 1993, 14 young captive-reared Whooping Cranes were released in the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County. By 1995, another 38 had been released. By the end of that year, 24 birds had survived. (Predation by bobcats accounted for most of the deaths.) Continued releases are planned in hopes of establishing a breeding population of 25 or more breeding pairs.
These birds are banded and fitted with radio transmitters. They have been seen outside the refuge.

name area season diet/native food plants
Sandhill Crane

tubers, shoots, seeds, acorns, berries, aquatic invertebrates, insects
aquatic plants, bald cypress, blueberry, dewberry, oak
N=north  C=central  S=south
Sp=spring  Su=summer  F=fall  W=winter
B=breeds in Florida during season(s) underlined  M=Migrant

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