The Father of Florida Folk, Will McLean, penned hundreds of songs about Florida. McLean, who was the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame loved to watch sandhill cranes. In Florida there are migratory sandhill cranes and cranes that stay in the state all year long. Below is a video produced by Donna Green-Townsend of migratory cranes incorporating one of Will McLean’s most popular songs, “Courtship Dance of the Florida Sandhill Crane.” Accompanying Will McLean are Kayt Kennedy on bowed psaltry and David Beede on hammered dulcimer. The music was recorded at McLean’s concert in 1985 at the Thomas Center in Gainesville, FL, just five years before his death.
It’s that time of year again when North Central Florida serves as host to migrating sandhill cranes. Floridians are very familiar with the loud, squawking sounds of these tall birds with wing spans as wide as 6 feet as they circle above and fly to favorite feeding grounds around the Gainesville area, especially Payne’s Prairie and the shoreline and marshes of Orange and Lochloosa Lakes in Alachua County. The father of Florida folk, the late Will McLean (1919-1990), was inspired by the “dancing and prancing” of the cranes and penned the song called, “The Courtship Dance of the Florida Sandhill Cranes.” McLean is accompanied in this 1985 live recording by Kate Kennedy on bowed psaltry and David Beede on hammered dulcimer.
In the news video below produced by Donna Green-Townsend on nesting ecology of Sandhill Cranes in Florida, you will hear the melody of McLean’s song performed by Melrose singer-songwriter David Beede and Kate Bostrum. The nesting ecology research was a cooperative effort between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Wildlife and Range Sciences Department at the University of Florida. (this report originally aired statewide on the IFAS program Florida File in 1990)