- A video taken in Florida showed an American alligator running away from a sandhill crane.
- The sandhill crane, which can grow to nearly 4 feet, spread out it wings to intimidate the alligator.
- One expert said the bird’s behavior makes it appear big like a human, which alligators are afraid of.
A dramatic wildlife encounter captured in Florida this week showed a fearsome apex predator confronting, and ultimately scampering away from, a large bird.
The video, taken in Sarasota and shared Tuesday on Facebook, showed an American alligator slowly emerging from a pond and moving towards a sandhill crane, which can grow to be nearly 4 feet tall with a wingspan of more than 6 feet. The crane quickly spreads out its wings and starts backing away from the alligator, which abruptly pauses.
The gator and the bird, only a few feet apart, then stare each other down for nearly a minute, until the alligator suddenly zips around and runs away from the bird and back into the water.
Laura Akin, who took the video, did not immediately respond to Insider, but told McClatchy News she was “spellbound.”
“My heart was racing a bit, and I had no idea what to expect. Since I was as close as 40 feet from the action, I was glad the gator took off in the other direction,” she said.
Savannah Boan, a crocodilian enrichment coordinator at Gatorland, told local news station WOFL that alligators don’t typically prey on sandhill cranes, but that they are “opportunistic predators” who may try to grab one if it’s close.
“Sandhill cranes don’t get afraid very easily, but what a sandhill crane has is a secret weapon against alligators. Alligators are naturally afraid of humans, so what do I look like if I do this? I look like a big ole human,” Boan said of the way cranes make themselves larger by spreading their wings.
Alligators are common in Florida and are typically most active during the mating season, from April to June. However, experts have said the alligator mating season appears to have started early this year due to unusually warm spring weather.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligator activity often picks up in March, when the weather gets warmer and they begin seeking out more prey.
Last week, a woman in Volusia County said an 11-foot alligator busted through her screened-in porch “like the Kool-Aid Man” and jumped into her pool. Meanwhile, an inspector in North Carolina stumbled across an 8-foot alligator in the attic of a home.