I was out shooting in farm country when I spotted my two non-breeding Sandhill Cranes in a cornfield.
One crane was standing watch while another had its head buried in the corn, most likely eating young seedlings. It’s this kind of behavior that makes farmers dislike cranes.
I caught this crane red-handed with corn matter in its mouth. It’s not uncommon for cranes to pull seedlings from the ground and fly off with them dangling from their bills.
I understand how cranes are a nuisance and financial drain to farmers, but they certainly are a favorite of mine to photograph.
I moved on down the road when I saw my other pair of cranes that inhabit this block. And they had a young one! I’d been waiting for this. While cranes may choose their partner for life early on, they may not be sexually mature and mate until they are four or five, sometimes not until they are seven.
What a cutie! I was enamored already. I had to wonder where its parents had nested. They were much better at hiding than I was at finding.
The juvenile’s coloring was just coming in. Its body was a light gray with rusty plumage showing on its back and wings. Its crown and back of the neck was showing some rust also.
I watched a while longer and then moved on, letting the cranes be cranes. One adult was watching, the other was feeding, and the juvenile was preening to take care of its new feathers.