Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Is Happening Here? Sandhill Cranes Learning to Fly? Part I

Here are the Thresherman Sandhills. They were extremely far away when they first came into sight and these are severe crops so not exactly sharp but as we're after what's going on as opposed to beauty shots--we'll make do.

That's a fledgling colt on the right. At first I'd thought he was the weak flyer as he was almost always off to the side or behind but with more observation I realized he flies quite well he's just staying out of the way of the various aerial scrums that take place repeatedly and without much notice with the mature birds and the other juvenile. Rather bright of him actually. I think we'll call him Bright and the other youngster Baffled. You'll see why.

The male parent, Jamie is the lowest crane, note the missing primary. He may be on his way over to help Claire help/steer Baffled.
If that is in actuality what she is doing.

Baffled's neck is crooked and his wings instead of being in soaring position like Jamie and Bright are turned down. Balance? Braking?

Claire has flown over and put her right wing under Baffled.

This is a few minutes later. Baffled is back into soaring position. Periodically the Cranes will flap and then return to soar.

Ah oh, Claire has her left wing under Baffled again who appears to be sinking and here comes Jamie giving them the eyeball.

Jamie glides under Claire's left wing. So her right wing appears to be supporting Baffle and Jamie is supporting her left wing by putting his right wing underneath it. Bright is in mid flap.
All three back to soar position, but with a bent towards the left.

I think, maybe, it's all surmise, they're attempting to get Baffled to turn.

A Crane triple decker.
Note Bright off in the corner there. He appears to have taken the cue and is turning. Yes?

Turn executed. Jamie flaps and rises.
Perhaps he's attempting to get over the top of Claire and Baffled to get into the lead position for draft flying?
Bright flaps and appears to be shortening the distance between he and the others.
Jamie flaps. Claire is center, alongside Baffled. She has her feet in the correct soaring position--toes pointed, legs as close together as possible. Baffled doesn't as he's likely got enough to worry about already as the learning curve up there has got to be pretty steep trying to deal with that newly sprouted seven foot wingspan without worrying about the niceties of toes.
This whole sequence barring the first photograph took place in under a minute.
More to come as I get it loaded.
Keep scrolling down if you've not seen the initial post that went up today.

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