Encounter on the M Canal

April 18, 2021

Not far off Okeechobee Blvd in West Palm Beach, Fl Jog Road disappears and resumes on 45st just past the Florida turnpike. Just past that junction near the SWA Plant is the Palmetto Trail head which leads to the Owahee
Trail. About a mile south of the Junction of the Owahee and the Palmetto trail head connector is the M Canal. We often walk to and on the Canal Trail. It's a great place to see a variety of  birds ,and Alligators.

Tricolor HeronTricolor Herons squabling
This could be about mating although birds often chase each other in competition for feeding areas
Tricolor herons in flight


There is also an Eagles nest viable from the trail and we often stop to look.Unfortunately we have never seen an adult flying near the nest or the eagle fledgling but we have seen an adult and the immature eagle in the nest. On the 18th the nest was empty.

Empty Eagle's Nest

 We stopped to look and then continued East on the trail. About a half mile down the trail the trail forks one part continues under the turnpike underpass continuing East the other goes along the turnpike in a southerly direction. We usually turn around at that spot but we saw a couple,that had recently passed us on their bicycles, stopped and looking at something off the trail. At that point it was impossible to tell what they were looking at so we started down the trail. At first it looked like a Big Blue Heron but it quickly became apparent that it was a solitary Sand  Hill Crane.

Solitary Sandhill
        CraneSandHill Crane with Chick
As we approached however we saw that it had a chick with it.

Adult Sand Hill
        Crane and chickSanbdhill Crane chick sticking close to
and the chick staid close to the adult

 This entire scene was somewhat strange because Sand hill Cranes mate for life and there was only one adult with this chick. As we stood watching and waiting for the mate to show up which it never did we saw another chick following at a distance.

Second smaller

The second chick looked considerably smaller then the first and appeared reluctant to approach closer.  As the adult foraged over maybe 50 feet near the path the second chick came closer but never too close and at one point it seemed to hide from the adult and first chick.
Second Chick
        hideingfollowing again
Second chick hiding and following again

Finally however it did approach although it did not seem very enthusiastic

second chick begining approachSecond
        Chick looking away

Reluctant approachApproach
It made it's move and started getting closer to the other two.

second chick got closerthe attack begins

when it finally got close it was attacked by the first chick while the adult looked on without interfering but seemed to also move towards the second chick.

first chick attacksattack continues

The second chick was lying still for a few seconds.  We thought it was finished as I guess did the first chick which relented and backed off.

Second chick begins to get upSecond
        Chick gets up

The second chick got up shakily
starting to escapeEscape
and ran away.

the chasesecond chick runs across the trail
The adult and first chick seemed to chase it
The second chick crosses the roadthe other
As it crossed the road
The Chick has crossed the trailAdult
        seems satisfied that chick is gonbe

The chase continued until it headed into the underbrush  and then they turned away.

We stood for a short while to see if it would come out but it never did so we turned and began our walk back to the car.