For those of you who have neglected going over to the Link Referral column on the right, and clicking on Francois Portmann's Photographs, you have been missing some absolutely spectacular work.
And now Francois has the feature photo spread in the March-April issue of Audubon Magazine and he is brilliant.
Photograph by Francois Portmann http://fotoportmann.com/birds/
See what I mean?
And it isn't just his proficiency with a camera, which of course he has, it is catching the bird moment as well as, in this spread's case the juxtaposition of Breezy Point, the urban environment across the way, and birds from the Arctic. It's art in a major way.
So go ahead. Check it out. We'll wait.
Click on Francois's link first-- http://fotoportmann.com/birds/, and then click on the link to Audubon Magazine where you'll get a sort of multi-media version of his photographs in the spread when you click on Gallery.
If for some reason that doesn't work for you, here is the link for the magazine and the article by Scott Wiedenthal. Once you get there scroll down the article a couple paragraphs and click on "Gallery, more images of snowy owls..."
Honest, we really will wait for you to get back. It's worth it. Trust me.
(I know, I know, they weren't Emily and Alfred yesterday, but suddenly today I know their names.... my whimsy must have clicked in. What can I tell you?)
Well if you look particularly at Alfred, the crane in the rear, also look at his rear. Instead of being completely gray back there as all the field guides tell you he should be, he has rusty brown feathers on his back and also the lower part of his neck. This is quite common.
Hmmm. Why might that be?
Next check out Emily's beak. After you left her yesterday, she leaned down and foraged around just into the water in the mud. See the glob of mud sticking to the tip of her beak?
The mud will be relevant in a minute.
The reason that many Sandhills have this rusty brown tinge on some of their feathers is because their feathers have actual rust on them.
How did they get rust on themselves? You might well ask as they aren't prone to snuggling with old rust bucket cars in scrap yards.
Well, in any number of places in which Sandhill Cranes spend their time, the soil has iron oxide in it. Therefore they forage around, get some mud stuck on their beaks like Emily and then preen...Ta Da! Rust colored feathers.
And their feathers will remain that color until they molt out and new ones come in. Who knew?
And speaking of odd tidbits about Sandhill Cranes, the next one is in relation to Canada Geese.
There are Canada Geese who are imprinted on Sandhill Cranes because they were raised by Sandhill Cranes and therefore want Sandhill Cranes for mates. (Not the case here as eventually that goose went off with another goose. More likely the geese were having some kind of territorial issue.)
At any rate, how do geese end up imprinting on Cranes in the first place?
Well you might ask.
For whatever obscure reason, every now and again a goose will lay an egg in a Crane nest. This would happen after the Crane nest had been built but was unattended as no crane eggs had yet been laid.
The Cranes are off doing Crane business, a goose passes by the empty nest and lays an egg in it. The Cranes come back, and don't seem to be bothered by this as they brood the goose egg along with their own after they lay them and also parent the gosling.
Precocial young like goslings, imprint on their parents directly after hatching, and if the "parent" happens to be a Sandhill Crane, they grow up learning to dance and attempting to seduce Sandhill Crane colts into being their mates, as well as migrating with flocks of Sandhills.
Fascinating isn't it?
Now go watch some birds, you just never know what you might see.