Lithia, FL

Florida Sandhill Crane Wins Pond Stare Down with Gator

L. Cane

It is a basic instinct for a parent to want to do whatever is necessary to protect its young. A sandhill crane that recently stood its ground against a lurking alligator in Lithia was no exception.

Mary Hendrick, who took video of the encounter and posted it to Facebook, noticed that the gator was thinking about exiting a pond near the crane's babies. The crane does not take kindly to the attempted exit, and immediately begins to extend its large wingspan while staring intently at the gator. The gator's response of menacing hisses does not deter the crane.

The crane moves in closer, never breaking eye contact until it decides that the danger has passed. Once the crane turns to head back toward its family, the gator lunges toward the shore but goes no further. The gator continues to stare, but never ventures onto the shore or advances toward the crane family. Here is a video of the entire encounter.

Mary Hendrick felt that both animals were posturing. She told the Miami Herald:

“I thought it was really fascinating to be able to watch nature play out. I knew the gator was nowhere near close enough to capture the crane. It was just posturing on both sides."

The gator was also likely the smallest animal in the standoff. Hendrick told the Miami Herald that the gator was about three feet long. However, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a sandhill crane can reach a height of over 47 inches with a wingspan of over 78 inches.

This isn't the first time a Florida crane has had an encounter with an alligator and caught the attention of the media. In 2021, a golfer in Orlando recorded a sandhill crane on a golf course in a face off with a small alligator.

And here is a YouTube video from Orlando showing three cranes appearing to escort an alligator across a street. The gator decides to abandon the street-crossing and flees toward water instead.

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