The Crane Dance, Morning. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Two sandhill cranes perform the ritual “crane dance” as others look on.
For the most part, sandhill cranes pretty much… stand around a lot. They often seem to be doing nothing at all, though perhaps they are feeding. Groups will stand in one spot for long periods of time, or perhaps a few may decide to wander a short distance for some reason. (If their path takes them away from you, there is a good chance that you may be closer than you really should be.) They fly out in the morning, and big groups of them often return in the evening, in what I regard as the most dynamic time of day for them.
And then, every so often, they “dance.” A pair of them, or sometimes an individual or even more than two, perform this remarkable ritual. By some combination of hopping and wing flapping they rise abruptly into the air, typically getting no more than a couple of feet off the ground and then dropping back to the same spot. From what I read, this may be a part of their mating/courting ritual, though they do this at other times for what seems to be no discernible reason. Perhaps they just feel like dancing? (In this little scene, I’m intrigued by the interested voyeurs on the left!)
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G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.