On one of our excursions to the Orlando Wetlands I had my first encounter with a Sandhill Crane, and it was love at first sighting!
There were actually a pair of Sandhill Cranes that we met in the parking lot (they were up to no good and ready to vandalize a vehicle!) and then we saw them again at the edge of the marsh.
These LOUD birds are so interesting. They are similar to Great Blue Herons in size and shape, but their markings are different and make them easy to recognize. And even when you can’t see them, you know they around because their volume is turned all the way up!
I “googled” Sandhill Cranes (since I was unfamiliar with them) and learned a few fun facts. They are highly social birds who mate for life, and who often engage in energetic and somewhat graceful dances with their partners. They have long, dagger-like beaks and clawed-toe feet – both of which are used for foraging and for fighting off foes. Apparently, they do a karate-kid-like maneuver when threatened, spreading their wings for balance and then kicking with their claws. I would have loved to have seen that!
I hope I get another chance to hang out with these loud but lovely birds one day!