Friday, August 22, 2008

Part I and II Sandhills and Geese in the Wheat Field

Yesterday, I decided to mosey over to the harvested wheat field in Thresherman's Park to see if there were any turkeys foraging as there had been the day before, I was surprised to see some very odd looking turkeys. I drove by, pretending to mind my own business. Exited the car out of bird sight, well except for the Crows who were scolding vociferously, and walked toward the field.

I hadn't even seen these guys. Though I had heard the Crows, who just wouldn't stop screaming at me.;

Why hadn't I seen the Geese? Why did I think there were some strange turkeys out there? Well, this is the wheat field and the birds were way, way, way, at the other end of the field. All I knew was that that whatever they were, they were big and brownish.

But, nay, nay, twasn't turkeys, instead once I got magnification on them, they were a pair of Sandhill Cranes.
By the way, do you know what a group of Cranes is called? I didn't so I looked it up. There are three choices--a herd of Cranes, a sedge of Cranes, or, and (my favorite), a siege of Cranes. I can't help thinking that if a group walked toward me that I might feel a little on the besieged side.
At any rate, it was interesting that the Canada Geese and the Sandhills weren't really all that far from each other.

Though Mr. Sandhill was certainly giving the Geese a "look".

And the gander was sending it right back at him.

Mr. Sandhill continued, I don't know who blinked first but--

...Mr. Sandhill decided he needed to check out the north treeline.

Satisfied on that account, he and the Mrs. went back to browsing.

WAIT! What's up there? Turkeys trotting around in the treeline?

Of no import evidentally. Then the pair began to do one of my favorite behaviors of Sandhill couples, they began to move in sync.

Oops! What now.

Nothing. Having done sync side to side, they now do it head to tail. See the legs, they move at the same time, same leg.
Then the hen turns and the male catches the rhythm once again. (By the way, does anyone know what a male Crane is called? Is the female a hen? I couldn't seem to dig it up this evening.)

The Goose and the Gander have been browsing together as well, though they don't do sync, they do mate for life just as the Cranes do. Gander is being quite vigilant himself.

Now back to the grain. I often wonder how the males get enough to eat with all the sentinel duty they do. I wonder if they have slower metabolisms or as they don't lay the eggs, they don't need as much food though they are larger.

Oh yes, there are three geese. I suspect the third is the final gosling hanging-out with the parents from this season's clutch.

Gander checks the woods. The girls just keep on pecking.

Gander's next look is back to Mr. Crane--just in case.

Ahh, Mr. Crane seems to be coming his way. No wonder Gander is being so attentive.

Then the goose catches up...

And then the Cranes go back into sync.

Just checking. Is the height posture supposed to be menacing? A warning.

Then back to foraging. But all the time the geese and the cranes are converging towards each other's group. Can't wait to see what will happen when they meet!

Suddenly Mr. Crane goes into another posture and looks north.

And what should be coming from the north? A formation of geese. Note the leader, very far out front. He is honking loudly and often.

It looks as if the leader is taking the group down.

Gander watches them coming out of the north. He begins to respond to the leaders Hoooonnk, Hooonnk and very penetrating voice.

Mr. Gander watches and vocalizes. But he isn't doing the strong, loud, Hooonnk of the flock leader. The honk with the big awww, in the middle. Rather he is saying, in quite the quiet voice, at least it's quiet for a goose, Gander is saying, " Hink, hink, hink.", periodically. He looks to be trying to make a decision on what should happen next. Stay or go?
This is when the Murder of Crows began their secretive activities. See Part III.
Donegal Browne

No comments: