Sandhill Crane Family with Adopted Gosling

In early May 2019, a Sandhill Crane family hatched a Canada Goose egg. A couple of days later, their Sandhill Crane egg hatched. The Sandhill Cranes have adopted the Canada Goose gosling as one of their own. They are caring for it along with their Sandhill Crane chick (which is called a "colt.")

The Sandhill Crane family hatched the Canada Goose egg in early May 2nd. The Sandhill Crane egg hatched a few days later on May 5th.

I will be documenting the family over the course of the Summer and the Fall. It will be interesting and fun to watch this beautiful bird family!

The most recent photos and updates will be at the top of this page.

Photos taken Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt and Canada Goose gosling age: Two weeks

Photographers have been banned from the golf course where the Cranes like to hang out during the day. Which makes sense because 1) photographers might beaned by golf balls (for the record I am totally willing to wear a helmet, armor, etc.) 2) golfers want to play golf (which is fair enough!)

I met a wonderful birder while walking up to the fence of the golf course where the Sandhill Cranes were hanging out. We could see the parents off in the distance, but they were standing in tall grass so that we couldn't see the little ones. Ever since the appearance of snapping turtles I have looking to make sure both the colt and the gosling were around.

After about ten minutes, Mom walked into the shorter grass with the gosling (yay!) The gosling seems to be standing up tall, maybe taking after his brother and parents. A short while later, Dad walked into the shorter grass with the colt (double yay!)

They walked farther away, down a hill were we couldn't see them, but at least we saw them for a short bit.

Not great pictures for this day, but it was great to see them!

Photos taken Friday, May 17th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Twelve days
Canada Goose gosling age: Two weeks

I got to the park just in time; the mom was leading her gosling and colt through the water to their nest a few minutes after I got there. Again the gosling was having a ball in the water, splish splashing around.

The gosling and the colt spent about an hour climbing over mom and getting comfortable. At one point the gosling took a quick dip and went paddling around the pond all by himself. The look the Sandhill Crane mom gave him when he got back made it look like he was in trouble!

The gosling is following mom to the nest, the colt is off to the left.

Getting comfortable.

Gosling taking a quick paddle around the pond.

Looks like someone might in trouble with mom! He snuggled right up to her and all was well.

Photos taken Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Eleven days
Canada Goose gosling age: Two weeks

I popped by the park later in the evening to see the Sandhill Crane family. It was right after workout class so I'm sure I looked and smelled great. But no time for a shower, there were birds to see! I watched Mom lead the colt and the gosling through the shallow water to their nest.  Once to the nest the colt immediately climbed on top of mom to snuggle down into her wings to get nice and comfy, while the gosling stretched for a bit before joining his brother.

The gosling swam easily after mom, while the Sandhill Crane colt floated and paddled its long legs to follow.

Made it to the nest!

Canada Goose gosling standing tall.


Photos taken May 14th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Nine days
Canada Goose gosling age: Thirteen days

There was some scary news earlier this week. As the Sandhill Crane family was settling down into their nest on the water Tuesday night, it was noticed that two giant snapping turtles were in the area. These turtles have been known to eat numerous cygnets (baby swans.) One of the Cranes flared out its wings to look as menacing as possible to the huge turtles to get them to back off. No one knew what happened to the family overnight.

I was awfully worried to see what I would find come Wednesday.  When I got to the park it was a such a relief to see the orange fuzzy colt tootling around, followed by his gosling brother! Both babies made it through the night! I observed mom keeping watch and walking around with them, feeding them worms. Dad showed up later, flying in from a short distance away.

The Sandhill Crane family decided to cross the street to another pond at one point. They were near the crosswalk (smart birds!) but I took a few steps into the crosswalk to help stop traffic for this family.

They made it safely across and waded into a tiny pond, but the Red-winged Blackbirds were not happy about that. These birds will attack Cranes if they go too close to their nest. I can't blame them; the Cranes will eat their eggs and nestlings if given the opportunity. The male Blackbirds  were sniping at the Cranes' tail feathers, and I even saw a female Blackbird dive bomb the Cranes. They must've been really close to a nest! The Blackbirds only attacked the parents, the colt and gosling weren't given any attention.

At this tiny pond the gosling looked very happy, paddling around in a tiny circle and dipping underwater. The colt dunked himself into the water as well for a quick bath. Both chicks stayed very close to the shore and to their parents.

I left the family shortly thereafter to look for warblers. I didn't see many of those birds, but I was very happy to have seen this family!


Mom and his gosling brother were walking down the path without him, so this Sandhill Crane chick started peeping to let them know they were going too fast.

"We're coming Mom!"

The gosling was running a little too fast and took a quick tumble to the ground. Luckily it's not too far to fall for the little guy.

The Red-winged Blackbirds were none too happy with the Cranes and were dive bombing them. The Cranes must've been close to a Blackbird nest.

The Sandhill Crane took a quick dip in the pond with his brother.

The gosling was really enjoying the water!


Photos taken May 12th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Seven days
Canada Goose gosling age: Eleven days

The Sandhill Crane family was on the golf course. The colt is already getting some height on the gosling. At one point the young ones had a race; the colt took off running, followed by the gosling waddling behind him with his tiny wings out, going as fast as he could go.

The race between the Sandhill Crane colt and the Canada Goose gosling was on! The Sandhill Crane was in the early lead, but the gosling overtook his brother by waddling as fast as he could. The gosling stretches out his tiny wings in victory!

Photos taken May 10th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Five days
Canada Goose gosling age: Nine days

Photos taken May 8th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Three days
Canada Goose gosling age: Seven days

The Sandhill Crane is hanging out on a golf course with its short and groomed grasses, poking into the ground with their long beaks. The colt is more active and the gosling is being fed and is eating worms. The gosling seemed to get tuckered out at times from all the walking and would sit down to rest.

This bug was too much for the colt to eat and he dropped it.

Photos taken May 7th, 2019

Sandhill Crane colt age: Two days
Canada Goose gosling age: Six days

This was the first time I saw the family! The colt was still learning how to use his legs and took a topple a few times. The gosling was much more active, getting worms from the parents and feeding on grasses. The colt was a little slower getting around and did not seem to be getting as much attention from the parents. I also saw the parents giving small sticks to the colt, which the colt did not eat.

Gosling snuggling up to mom. The colt is hiding under mom, staying warm. It was a little chilly out (about mid 50s F)


The Sandhill Crane colt on left, Canada Goose gosling on right.

"Whatcha got for me mom?" The Sandhill Crane parents have been feeding him worms and grubs, the same food that the colt is getting.

The gosling was pulling up and eating grasses at five days old.