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Tall, Loud, And Handsome

The elegant Florida sandhill crane is a loyal mate, an attentive parent and a fearless protector

They are surely among the most amazing creatures to be found in Florida. They stand some 4 feet tall, with long, skinny legs, a long, curving neck and a prominent beak. Their plumage is gray, white and dun, capped with bold red atop their heads, as if a painter using soothing, minimalist colors had decided to add a splash of flamboyance at the last moment. Their bright yellow eyes have a keen gaze. Their exotic call sounds like something Captain Kirk might hear on an alien planet.  

They are sandhill cranes. And as striking and beautiful as they are, their virtues run deeper than appearances, for they are loyal mates and tender parents.

These qualities of cranes have been recognized for centuries. East Asian species of cranes, such as the red-crowned crane and the Siberian crane, are beloved images in Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, not only because of their beauty, but because they are fittingly seen as symbols of loyalty and longevity. A classic example of the love of cranes in Chinese culture is the Song Dynasty poet and calligrapher Lin Bu, an eccentric recluse who lived on the shores of a lake, observing cranes and writing poetry about them. It was said that the cranes, along with the plum trees that grew nearby, were like a family to him.