In February of this year the sandhill cranes came into the yard with a baby about a week old. That was an odd time of year for them to have a baby, and I wondered if it was because of the warm winter we were having. The baby is now 3 months old and quite large, but the parents have abandoned it! I knew something had to be up when I saw them out by my marsh making a new nest in April. They only build a nest if they are going to lay eggs, or possibly if their old nest is destroyed.
They spent a day building it, a smaller than usual nest.  I waited for something to happen, surely a new egg or two would follow, but it didn’t. The 3 of them slept there for a few weeks, (the mother and baby together in the nest, the father stands in the water.) They stopped sleeping there about 10 days ago and left the nest.

Suddenly this past week I have been getting cranes that come here one at a time, most unusual unless the parents are nesting. The baby comes all alone, the father and mother each come at separate times. I knew they had to have a nest somewhere and so I  bugged the neighbors to check their property and look across the lake around the shoreline. I got a response and found the mother nesting on one of the neighbors backyards.. The nest is very poorly built, not much padding around it at all as if made very quickly, it sure does not look like previous nests that took several days to get it right.
This time there is only one egg. My cranes have been doing unlikely things since they laid one egg in 2010 and then about 6 days later, laid another one. Unfortunately, the newest baby was expected to get up and keep up with the one born 6 days prior and instead of resting the first 24 hours, that newest  hatchling literally gave out, had no energy to keep up and died a couple days later, (there is a blog with photos in the archives.)

First of all,  I have NEVER seen them abandon a hatchling  like that. They keep their ‘colt’s with them about 10 months. For them to leave this baby is not their normal nature.  Even though it is a big baby, as large as the parents, it’s feathers have not changed, it still have baby coloration for a few more months and it is in need of protection and a social group. I wonder if the other young, unpaired, sub-adults would even accept a baby into their groups? I have not seen the baby in a couple days. I’m sure it is foraging in the same places it’s parents traveled.
The new egg is probably due to hatch around 3weeks, takes about  30 days. I will report back and let you know what happens.

Also the woodduck couple still hangs around, they didn’t see me on shore taking photos or they would have flown away fast – they are very very shy. Today they swam pretty close allowing me to get some good shots. I felt bad that none of their 4 eggs made it. I wonder if they will use the box again? The males are beautifully marked and colored, they have a distinctive call to each other.

I decided to fish even though sub-tropical storm Beryl had been sending rainbands throughout this afternoon. We still have a bad drought and need rain . The water level is very low. About 4 feet of water is needed to make it cover the banks again. Anyway, I was fishing though nothing was biting and my heron came down to see if I might catch anything, (I didn’t,)  but she stayed near me all the time I fished. She was still standing near shore when I left. Hope one night I can catch something for her, I enjoy her company down by the lake, it’s not the same without my cat, Ringo, how I miss his blue eyes shining in anticipation when that line grew slack.

Here’s the photos of recent faces and the new egg:

And last but not least, thanks to our military on this Memorial Day – we are lucky to have them to protect and defend us- Thank You for your service!