[Both] Sony F-717 digital
48.5mm at f4.0
1/320 second, ISO 100
The whole state's a zoo
sandhill crane Grus canadensis portrait

I'm still not used to it after a couple of years. But many animals, especially birds, in Florida just seem way too mellow for their own good. It's great for nature photographers who can, for instance, get detailed closeups without even getting out of their car on the shoulder of the highway...

Case in point: A pair of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) poking around in the ditch, 4 meters (13 feet) from the road surface. Okay, I've seen this before from many birds – they get used to cars rushing past and ignore them, until one stops, which is then considered dangerous and the birds take off. Just not in this case, where both subjects posed unconcernedly for me.

sandhill crane Grus canadensis chick

And then I spotted the little bit of gold fluff in the ditch at their feet – a baby sandhill! He was being a good boy and remaining largely out of sight, uttering not a peep and making very little movement. Looking up the species afterwards, I found I might have been even luckier than I first thought, because the species normally breeds at the northern reaches of its migratory pattern, which is up near the Arctic Circle.

I was impressed, and more than a little concerned, with the apparent unprotectiveness of the folks, but I never got out of the car either. Might have been a different story then.