Another day, another alligator-on-a-golf-course story.

They’re a dime a dozen, these greens-galumphing gators, but every so often you get another critter involved in the affair to spice up the scene. Last month it was a heavyweight gator on a South Carolina course putting on a show for white-tailed deer; now we’ve got one in Florida setting local birdlife in a tizzy.

The action (such as it was) went down at the Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach on June 8, when a man filmed an alligator — significantly smaller than the South Carolina whopper — trundling onto the putting green from an adjacent wetland. The strutting reptile immediately attracted the attention of a nearby pair of Florida sandhill cranes, one of which took the opportunity to show off some cajones.

The crane flared its wings, approached the gator, and ushered it on its way—a typical sandhill response to a potential terrestrial predator. (It’s the same move used by these sandhill cranes on a yet-smaller golf-course gator, which ends up hightailing it.) The cranes may hiss, too, and ultimately kick at their antagonist, though this particular bird apparently deemed such manoeuvres unnecessary.

In late April, a bigger alligator elicited a less stouthearted response from a sandhill pair at the ChampionsGate Golf Club close to Orlando. (So apparently gator/crane faceoffs on Florida golf courses are becoming their own thing.)

Between an alligator’s sluggish swagger and a crane’s stately prance, though, both these encounters can really only be described as “laidback.”

Sandhills, which usually mate for life, certainly aren’t pushovers when it comes to defending their young: They’ve been known to drive off black bears that amble too close to a nest, employing the same intimidating wingspread routine.

Alligators are occasional predators of cranes, though adult birds tend to be fleet and alert enough to steer clear. Cranes typically forage in fields and wet meadows and nest in shallow marshes, while alligators prowl deeper waterways. High water levels, though, may allow gators to access crane nesting grounds, where they’ve been known to eat both eggs and fledglings. In reintroduction programs for the whooping crane — another North American species larger and much more endangered than the sandhill — captive-reared birds were more vulnerable to alligators in the first year after their release into the wild and apparently became more adept at avoiding the reptiles with time.

The tables probably turn on occasion: Sandhill cranes are omnivorous, and it’s conceivable they might chow down on an alligator nestling should the opportunity arise.

Well, stay tuned for the next instalment of golf-course gators: Who knows what kind of slow-motion, low-intensity confrontations are in store?

Top header image: cuatrok77, Flickr