Sunday, August 2, 2009

Posture is Everything!

I just paid a visit to Operation Migration's website to see how training went this morning. What I discovered was a wonderful video clip, something you will want to see, a pair of wild Whooping cranes threat posturing.
When you view the video below, you will see two adult Whooping cranes walking with their heads down showing their bald, bright red skin patch. Cranes can engorge this skin patch with blood, making it larger and redder. When they hold their heads down, the skin patch is prominent and represents a warning to intruders that an attack could follow.
Chris Gullikson, one of Operation Migration's costume-clad pilots and the videographer, is also posturing by holding the red head of his Whooping crane hand puppet high in the same position. Size matters in the Whooping crane world and Chris, whose human shape is covered with a white costume, represents a larger threat in crane posture language.

As you view the video below, don't miss the stomping that occurs early while the bird to the right is still in the shadows. He repeats it later. You can hear it as well. Stomping is an additional threat behavior. Also, remember that Whooping cranes are five feet tall with a wing-span of seven feet!

The reason for the encounter? Chris is at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and is discouraging the pair from interfering with the ultralight migration training by trying to lure the juveniles away. You can see Chris' shadow as you view the video. At the end of the clip, the pair flies over to another wild crane who has trespassed into their territory. After they chase him off, they sound the unison call, trumpeting their successful defense of territory. The unison call also serves to strengthen the pair bond.



Great clip, Chris and Operation Migration! Threat posturing, a rare glimpse into the lifestyle and personality of Whooping cranes.

Check out migration training as it progresses at Operation Migration's field journal or by watching the cranecam as training is underway. And don't forget to Give A Whoop!

Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #49 at Birdfreak.com to promote the conservation of our world's birds.

12 comments:

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for posting all the links as well.

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  2. Thanks Vickie,
    Great foot stomping :) Lots of stomp for a thin leg!

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  3. Awesome video Vickie! Wow, would I love to see those big birds up close and personal (from a safe location of course)!

    I'm so glad to see that Operation Migration has the "Give a Whoop!" campaign going. I saw it on your blog a while back and emailed them for a logo.

    If you know the folks there, you may want to get in touch with them and suggest that they post some downloadable logos on their site so folks can put them on their own blogs and help them raise money for a great cause.

    OK everyone... this is a NO BRAINER here. A measly $10 donation for a great birding cause! Let's help them out!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting! Thanks, Vickie, for sharing!

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  5. Anyone wanting webcam or "Give A Whoop" logos and links for their blog, email me at Viclcsw(at)aol(dot)com. I'll send you the links and images for your blog or web site.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Vickie! Love the video and pics.

    I would love to see one of these birds.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice write up and great video! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. ...very interesting and quite intimidating!! There are always neat things to learn. Thanks for posting...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Water Damage Carroll, MDAugust 10, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    Great video!

    <3 Lindsay

    ReplyDelete
  10. I will be intimidated by such a display for sure. Your sketch capturs the essence of it. Very nice to hear its call too. Nice to know the use of that red patch in the head for that bird. How interesting!

    I like the word 'engorge'. That sounds like a good word to know for scrabble, if the word gorge is already played.

    You see, everytime I come here I learn something new. Thank you!

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  11. Vickie, this is just wonderful, both the drawing and the information! Love these birds! I need to see one someday!

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  12. Howdee Vickie..
    I must have missed this post somehow.
    I can see you have allot of passion for the Whooping Cranes!
    Jeff and I saw distant views of them when we were in Florida.
    I am hoping to see them again someday..a bit closer..
    great photos and information!
    Where have u been? havent see much of you on Twitter.

    ReplyDelete

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