12 Jan We Solved Another Puzzle | Jan 2016
We Solved Another Puzzle
Good news! We solved another puzzle.
If you’re an astute observer of birds, you may notice that something is missing in the above photo of a Sandhill Crane.
Sandhill Cranes have long legs that extend behind them as they fly.
So what’s happening here?
It’s really cold. The sunrise temperature was 13 F (-10 C) on the morning when I took this photo.
It was so cold that ice had formed on top of the water this bird stood in during the night. When morning came, the bird had to wiggle its legs free and then step up onto the ice before it could fly.
As you might imagine, after spending a night standing in ice cold water, this bird had cold toes.
But birds are smart.
Once in the air, the bird folded its legs, tucking them under its body feathers. That served to warm its toes and conserve body heat during its flight to a feeding area.
By the way, gain a valuable idea and see a Sandhill Crane with legs at:
Wing Flaps and the Meaning of Flight
The photo was taken at Bosque del Apache, near San Antonio, NM.
Find more info about this wildlife refuge: Friends of the Bosque del Apache
Did You Know?
The most effective way to help birds is to buy land.
Here are three organizations that excel at doing this.
Please visit their web sites to learn about the work they do.
Here’s an excellent book: The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation
You can help – Please share this blog with others.
Inspiring Respect for Nature, one bird at a time.
Web Site | Presentations | Blog | Photos | Articles
Vicki GreenPosted at 14:24h, 13 January
Interesting! I don’t see Sandhill Cranes in my area, but do see a lot of great blue herons and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them tuck their legs in like that.
Debra AtlasPosted at 11:57h, 14 January
Fascinating story. Thanks for posting this, Steve. Gives me even greater respect for Mother Nature’s creations!
MaryPosted at 12:39h, 14 January
Kay MillerPosted at 13:13h, 14 January
I’m camping in Blythe, CA, and these cranes fly over us everyday. Glad to see it close up.. I’ll share the photo with others here.
RussPosted at 18:53h, 14 January
A very cool shot Steve. Naturally, I just assumed it was a JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) launch like we used on some of our SAC bombers during the Cold War with the Russki’s. Then I noticed the lack of a smoke trail, or jet engines for that matter, and realized some new physics were involved. Possibly anti-gravity. Your theory about those big-ole legs tucked-up underneath the feathers is a bit far fetched though, I might need a little more proof of that. As usual, stellar work.
Bob FranzPosted at 07:05h, 15 January
Doesn’t need no stinkin’ legs – he’s a waterfowl!
Susan BulgerPosted at 08:40h, 15 January
Appreciate your keen observations and your trusty lens. Thanks.
Candace CoxPosted at 15:43h, 15 January
So cool! I love your artistic beauty, thanks Steve.. It’s beautiful.
John HarveyPosted at 05:12h, 16 January
13 degrees and you were there to capture the shot! Bravo (brave-o!). But do they ever get those legs stuck in the ice? Thanks, Steve.
JesusPosted at 23:24h, 17 January
Beautiful shot and great educational commentary. Thanks Steve!
Maia KincaidPosted at 20:41h, 18 January
Wow another amazing photo and an interesting story too!!! Thank you for sharing your world Steve!
MarianPosted at 15:09h, 26 January
Dang! That’s really cold for Bosque del Apache, isn’t it, even for this time of year? The solution to the mystery of the legs makes total sense, when I think about it. Thank you!
Deb CallahanPosted at 20:39h, 26 January
We see this often in the San Luis Valley of Colorado when the cranes are here during the Spring Migration.
AnonymousPosted at 02:39h, 29 January
Nature is so marvelous and provides ways for survival. Great article.
Brigitte NoelPosted at 13:31h, 26 January
So strong and hardy in flight, I remember seeing flocks of Sandhill cranes on the ground when driving through southern Idaho on the way to Boise from California years ago. I think it was in the Fall.