Saturday, August 02, 2014

Is there a lifer dance for a dance?

Sandhill cranes dance. As mature adults, they dance to attract and bond with a mate, but the rest of the time, they just dance, probably like we do, for the fun of it.

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:

Limbering up.


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.

Fancy footwork


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.


  1. What a great capture. I think the photos turned out great. - Margy

  2. Thanks, Margy. I almost didn't post them because they were blurry, but now I like them.

  3. I've seen a sandhill crane dance. It's a joyous thing.


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