Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sandhill Crane Behavior - part 2

Following our sunrise visit to the pond, we all climbed back into the vans and headed back to the Bosque for a nice warm breakfast, New Mexican style. While eating we also saw some film on the various behavior and communication styles of Sandhill cranes. Shortly afterwards we headed out to one of the cornfields on the Bosque, and we were to watch the cranes to see how they reacted to possible threats or how they communicated with each other. This was really fun, because we saw how the male and female were always together. While one would eat, the other would stand guard as the photo below indicates.
Notice in this next photo one of the cranes is standing guard while the other three are eating. If you can enlarge this photo (by clicking on it), you will also notice the same behavior in the cranes farther out in the field.
This crane is in a very alert stance, and notice the red coloring on the front part of his head. We were told that this is a featherless part of their heads. And when these birds feel threatened in any way the red coloring deepens and possibly gets larger. This is a part of the cranes' behavior that is still being studied. But the "experts" realize that their heads turn quite red when they feel threatened.
Here's another view as the crane turned toward us.
Here is another photo of a group eating corn in the field. Notice there are four standing alert out of the dozen or so we see here.
I couldn't resist to add a couple more photos here.

While in the field I also took other photos that were not of cranes which I'll share in my next post.


Erie's Argonaut said...

That behavior made me think of meerkats. No wonder they have the Festival of the Cranes there, there are so many in one area. We have Sandhill Cranes come here, too, but I never noticed the red on their heads. I'll have to make a point of seeing that this coming birding season.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

The red on the head shows up really well.It is interesting to read how this is in response to a treat.Thanks for the info.

Heidi said...

Those photos turned out really good Mom! So did you get them dancing?

Mary C said...

Linda - will you get the chance to see the cranes during spring migration? If so, I hope you get a chance to watch them. You certainly want to watch them when the male and female dance -- that is part of the mating ritual. I also learned that the cranes will stay with each other until one of them dies (monogamous).

Ruth, I'm happy to share what I have learned about these really neat birds.

Thanks, Heidi. No, I wish I could have seen them dancing, but it's mostly done in the spring as part of their mating. It's so cool you could put some classical music to their ritual. One thing I did see them do was the male and female "talking" to each other.

RuthieJ said...

Those are neat pictures can really sense the "alertness" in the watching cranes.


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