North American Crane Working Group


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Nesbitt, S.A., P.S. Kubilis, and S.T. Schwikert. Interaction of young Florida sandhill cranes with their parents. In: Folk, MJ and SA Nesbitt, eds. 2008. Proceedings of the Tenth North American Crane Workshop, Feb. 7-10, 2006, Zacatecas City, Zacatecas, Mexico: North American Crane Working Group. pp. 107-110.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


We studied the interactions of 46 Florida sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pratensis) chicks and their parents from hatching until the chicks left the family group. Our goal was to see if young remained closer to one parent than the other and if the distance between a chick and its parents increased as the young approached the age of independence. Using a population of individually marked adult pairs, we ranked the distance to and gender of the nearest parent during 233 30-minute observation periods. Between hatching and 180 days of age, chicks showed a greater tendency to be nearer the female than male parent. Before 265 days of age there was a greater probability that the chick would be within 5 m of its nearest parent. After 265 days of age the probability that a chick would be ≥ 20 m from its nearest parent increased. These 2 ages may represent developmental milestones that could have relevance for captive management and reintroduction strategies. By the end of the first stage (180 days), the benefits of being reared by their parents may have peaked for crane chicks and the end of the second stage (265 days) could be the optimal time for releasing captive-reared cranes into the wild.