The Royal, The Deliverer and the Just Plain Ugly

Once again I’ve been hammering the search engines in a desperate attempt to identify the birds shot on our Indianapolis Zoo trip. I have whole hardheartedly committed to taking shots of the placards the next time we visit a zoo – this is just getting way to hard for the exotics, and today we definitely have a few exotics. The first one up has become one of my favorite birds. I’m a sucker for the larger birds (I can shoot Heron’s all day long) and this one ranks up there with the biggies.  Along with the size, this bird boasts a very unique color palette ranging from powder blue to white with a touch of red and a splotch of rust.

But this is probably not the first thing you notice with these majestic birds.  Take a gander at that flamboyant hat!  I pretty much lucked out in identifying this bird.  My efforts from the previous post already told me the Indy Zoo page was not going bail me out and just name it for me.  On a whim, I typed in “Colorful Exotic Birds” in the Google search bar and this link popped up (link here).   There it was, a mere three birds in – the East African Crowned Crane.  A few pecks of the keyboard revealed that Wikipedia refers to this bird as the Grey Crowned Crane.  According to that site, this is the National Bird of Uganda.  Here’s a better look at the fluffy crown these cranes sport.

Quite the mop top.  We did not get to experience this when we were there, but they are known for their mating dances and jumping.  Come to think of it, the first shot looks like it is limbering up for some ballet moves.  Or it could be just a nose itch – those moves are often confused.  Those wings can span over six and a half feet and their long legs are well adapted to their habitat preferring the wetlands and marshes.  Unfortunately, their habitat is dwindling which is threatening their survival.  Wikipedia lists this crane’s conservation status as Endangered.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of the Crowned Crane an a couple of other residents of the zoo.

This may have gone unnoticed, but I try to keep man made containments out of my shots.  A goal that is easily addressed in the wild.. not so easy in a ZOO.  A little footwork will usually do the trick but this didn’t work out in the next two shots.  I still thought the shots were worthy of putting up on the blog.

Especially the next one.  It is one of the few I had of this creature where it was looking straight at me.  This angle gives a hilarious perspective you didn’t get with the previous shots.

And for the full effect, let me bring you in a bit… try not to laugh to hard!

That shot cracks up every time.  I am going to print it off and hang it in my cube – whenever the workload starts overwhelming me I can simply glance over at the Crowned Crane and chuckle the worries away.  As a note the red area on the neck is actually an inflatable sack that is also used to enhance the courtship and produces a boisterous call.

That takes us through the Royal, now on to the Deliverer.   Relax, I am not talking the “Squeal like a pig” kind.  Nope, this one has a fabled background of a delivery bird.  I actually tried to get a better understanding of how the concept of Storks delivering babies came to be.  The discussion on the Wikipedia page for these birds touched upon it but really didn’t give a lot of detail.  Although, it did mention that Germans had a belief that handicapped babies were attributed to being dropped by the Stork during delivery – eeesh.  I did know that that there was Egyptian lore that they represented the “soul”.  Thinking about that for a bit, adding in the concept of reincarnation could dovetail nicely into the concept of delivering life.   The Crane above took less than 15 minutes to identify.. the last bird ended up being an accidental bi-product of searching for the Crane, but the White Stork featured below took over an hour to finally figure out.  At one point I was reading websites in Sweden trying to figure out if any of those words looked like a bird name – somewhere I stumbled on weissenstorch which triggered the word Stork.  Tap, tap, tap.. low and behold I was looking at similar images called out as White Storks.

Another bird successfully identified.  A couple of facts on this bird.  They are known as long migratory birds traveling between Europe and African on thermals.  They are omnivores (seems dangerous to have an omnivore delivering babies).  For comparison to the Crowned Crane, the White Stork has a wingspan in the 80 inch range.

Okay, to put it nicely, this next bird has a face only a mother could love.  In fact, it is so ugly that they put it in a habitat protected by both wire fencing and plexiglass.  Those two things can drive photographers nuts.  Even if you can shoot through the openings in the fence you still have to fight the distortion of the plexiglass.  That makes for a less than stellar picture and that is exactly what you get here.

I was also shooting into the shadows since this bird refused to come out into the light. When post processing this picture Seinfeld popped into my head – remember that episode on good light and bad light?  This would be the one where the lady looked nice in direct light but turned frightening when shadows fell across her face.  Maybe this bird just suffers from bad light syndrome.  In the light it looks like an Eagle.. albeit and Eagle with a giant knob on its head.  I probably could have found this simply looking for the converse of the first search – “What is the ugliest bird there is?”.  The web leads one to believe this nasty looking bird is a Helmeted Guineafowl.  As with many of these birds of late, the Guineafowl is another native of Africa.  After reading their Wikipedia entry I found myself having a greater affinity than expected.  Turns out they are great runners and both of us kill a lot of ticks – I smash them often after removing them from Rizzi – where they just consume them in their diet.  Their conservation is listed as Least Concern – probably due to no one wanting to get close to them!

It’s late and I need to hit the hay so I’m bright and springy for the new work week.  Hope you enjoyed this set of birds!  Looks like one more post will get me through the rest of the birds from Indianapolis – stay tuned.

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