Archive for May 27th, 2012
The other night WC was at Creamer’s Refuge, photographing birds, and encountered Sandhill Crane behavior he hadn’t seen before.
There are still 100-125 Sandhill Cranes on the refuge. A few stay to breed, and some individuals will remain all summer and not bother to breed; they might be subadults. Most will leave, but just haven’t left yet.
There’s also a Red Fox on the refuge this spring, and it has been hunting smaller birds. This Red Fox got what appears to be a Pacific Golden Plover or a Black-bellied Plover. It’s hard to tell. But the Cranes were extremely unhappy about it. They were honking, hopping and flapping their wings and then, in a group of 25-30, rushed the Red Fox. They weren’t entirely happy about approaching a predator, but in this photo you can see some fly-hopping, some running and some hesitating. But collectively, they were attacking or bluffing an attack on the fox. And you can see the fox is not happy about it either. His posture is submissive, and his ears are down.
(Note: it was pretty late, the light was pretty bad and these photos aren’t great. And they are pretty steeply cropped. This was all happening a couple of hundred meters away.)
The fox eventually decided to make a break for it, and sprinted directly towards WC. The Cranes followed, driving the fox away, but not attempting to get ahead of it.
Unfortunately, about half a second after this photo, the fox saw WC and his camera, as did the cranes, and whole pattern of behavior changed. The big guy with the camera might have been seen as more dangerous than the fox, WC supposes, because the chase broke off, the fox dodged into the woods and the cranes returned to feeding.
It’s interesting that the cranes responded cooperatively to the threat of the predator, driving it off. If any naturalists have wandered over to this blog, WXC invites their observations.