We had never seen a dance, though, until a couple of days ago, at Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, where we met a group of 5 young adults on the pathway. They came, as usual, for their handout, but quickly lost interest and returned to the sunny patch they had chosen as a dance floor. And, not minding us, they danced and danced.
All of our photos turned out bad, unreparable, but I have to show you the least worst, anyhow; I'm so thrilled to have seen this display!
|First, a not-so-terrible photo. Just finished the dance, catching his breath in the shade. He's an adult, by the red cap, but young, not fully grown yet.|
The dance involves neck twisting, prodigious leaps straight upward, wing displays, leg stretches, prancing and other contortions. During mating dances, the cranes call to each other; these youngsters danced in silence.
|The watcher will imitate him in a minute or two.|
|Again, one watches, one leaps.|
Five minutes later, it was over. We walked out into the sunshine (we had been half-hidden in deep shade while they danced), I went to feed the mallards in the lagoon, and turned to find a sandhill a foot away, asking for his tip. I up-ended my bag of goodies, and we left them to it.