Sandhill Cranes and a few Whooping Cranes too!!
It is about this time of year that the Sandhill Cranes descend upon Gainesville Florida to spend the winter. Usually 1,000 to 2,000 of these large birds winter over each year. Typically, they spend the day foraging for food in the agricultural and cow pastures. At night they roost in the safety of knee-deep waters at Paynes Prairie. Sandhill Cranes are graceful, tall, long-lived birds known for their courtship dances and loud, bugling calls. You can see them doing a beautiful mating dance with their bills clacking all around. They are omnivorous and are usually observed in marshes, prairies, and also pastures, lawns, and golf courses. Florida has two subspecies of Sandhill Crane. The resident Florida subspecies occurs throughout much of the peninsula, where it breeds; it is state-listed as threatened. The Greater Sandhill Crane, which breeds in the northern United States and Canada, migrates to Florida for the winter and can be found in large flocks. I am lucky enough to live 15 minutes from Paynes Prairie and was able to go see them by the hundreds in the fields. Their legs are about up to my knees or taller and their long necks are almost make them about 4.5 to 5 ft tall. The whooping crane which is an endangered species can also be spotted in and amongst the sandhill cranes. They have been bred in captivity and released into the wild. They have learned to travel with the sandhill cranes……. So it goes…. Birds of the feather flock together!
As I have been getting ready to teach a class for the Pastel Society of America I have been playing with Pan Pastels. Here is a portrait I did of a Sandhill Crane that I did from my photos and sketches.
This painting is available for purchase in my Etsy Shop: BugsBeastsBotanicals