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Our Only Native Stork in North America

10/25/2017

North American Wood Stork

This bald headed Southeastern United States wading bird in all its glory and bizarreness hasn't really been given its due appreciation, in my humble opinion.

Relating to this bird with pure emotion, and also in character with my adoration and respect for all wildlife, I see this bird as beautiful.  Look at this creatures prehistoric looking head, it's awesome and awkward at the same time. And because the wood stork has gotten sort of a bum rap in the "good looks" gene pool, no doubt undeservedly, I decided to feature all of its loveliness and make him the cover photo of my 2018 Wildlife Calendar.

I decorate him with favor for returning to southwest Florida to breed after a about a two year absence. Welcome back my featherless headed friend. 

In this photographic image this wood stork is enjoying a little late afternoon sunshine after a day of dining on minnows, frogs, and crayfish from what I could tell. Leading the troop, he began exiting a grassy marsh pond with a flock of friends and family who were gingerly lagging behind. This gave me the perfect opportunity to capture this ones style and essence as they all silently retreated into the shadows.

©Marc Harris/MarcHarrisWildlife   

Purchase this image at  http://www.marcharriswildlife.com/galleries

Purchase our 2018 Calendar at http://www.marcharriswildlife.com/merchandise/calendars

 

 

The Dance of the Sandhill Crane

10/17/2017

There are several theories about why Sandhill Cranes dance. The most widely accepted theory is that the dance is a mating ritual. 

However, even Juvi's have been known to join in on the fun.

Maybe that's the real answer...they dance because it's fun.

 

©Marc Harris/MarcHarrisWildlife   

Purchase this image at  http://www.marcharriswildlife.com/galleries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill Cranes Mate For Life

10/9/2017
 
 
The majestic sandhill crane.

This 2017 breeding season many sandhill cranes made a Florida inland marsh their breeding home. There were rock island beds to keep their nests relatively safe from coyotes, bobcats and other ground predators but the attentive parents still had many dangers to face every day.

I set up my hidden blind area at the rounded tip of a land jetty that allowed me to observe one particular mating pair. Their colorings were significantly different as well as their nesting behaviors so it was easy for me to tell them apart whether they were together or one of them was off taking a break from the two eggs they were caring for.
 
On March 31st the eggs hatched and two colts were born. Within 8 to 12 hours both little ones were being led away from the nest by the parents, across the muddy marsh to begin their rigorous struggle and perseverance for what would be a life of survival. The first trek to the edges of the marsh bank for the two tiny birds was amazing. With Mom and Dad urging them forward they would drop from exhaustion but the family bond of encouragement made them stronger as they struggled through the muck in preparation for life in the wild. 
 
The siblings bonded immediately and at four days old when the weaker of the two was having difficulty keeping up, the stronger one would rush to the rescue and insist the little one keep moving. It was incredibly touching to watch the dynamics and the roles they assumed as one family.
Every morning at sunrise the family left the nesting site for long treks through the forest. 
As of April they had one surviving colt that was doing quite well despite the fact that it was the weaker and smaller of the two hatchlings. I watched it start to fly just a little to keep up with the parents. The family of three made it through the season and I returned often to witness the love, knowledge and survival skills they imparted upon their colt as she grew into her legs and became as beautiful as her Mom and Dad. 
 
As this noble and elegant family continues to make their way through life I hope to see them again soon.