Been an exhausting day pounding out a 12 miler in the Jubilee hills and then breaking out the mower for the first cut of the season. To give myself a bit of a rest, figured I’d take a seat and crank out a quick post. I warned you in the last post that there were a number of Crane entries coming from our visit to the International Crane Foundation (link here) nestled near Baraboo, Wisconsin.
This colorful Crane specimen is referred to as a Wattled Crane and like the Blue Crane from the previous post, is a native of Africa. Half the population of these birds (total ~8,000) take up residence in Zambia – a mighty long way from Wisconsin! Unlike the Blue Crane, this particular species is on the other end of the stature scale. If I recall correctly the Blue Crane tops out in the 4 foot range. The Wattled Crane tops out in the SIX FOOT range. Yes, this is one of those Cranes you can view at eye level while standing (unless you are short of six feet in which case you are immediately demoralized having to look UP to a bird.
Hit the jump to see more shots of the Wattled Crane!
Rounding out the other dimensions, the ICF website classifies these Cranes in the 14 pound range although Wikipedia puts them in the 17 to 20 pound range – I’m sticking with the ICF numbers. Ironically, once again, ICF failed to give a wingspan. Wikipedia sets it at the 8 to 8.5 foot. Not sure I ever want to be around when this bird gets pissed off. It is hard to capture the experience of how large this bird is especially without some other known reference in the frame.
Once again I tried to pull in a little closer, although at the expense of the entire legs this time. Definitely works a lot better since you can’t visually see the legs that were cropped out of the picture. This shot does give a nice view of the color palette of the Wattled. The gene pool opted to give this one a matching top hat to go along with the red in the face and typical white collar. The bright red eyes finish off the cool look of these birds (although the warty bumps in the red before the bill is a little creepy).
In case the name given to this Crane is throwing you, it is named after the fleshy features hanging down from the chin. It is said these features are used to impress potential mates – kind of like our Wild Turkeys. Per Wikipedia, these birds have the lowest average of clutches (in the 1.6 range) and often they are only capable of rearing one at a time. This was affirmed by an information sign at the ICF office that basically stated the same thing, but added that it is usually the first that is hatched that gets the attention (suspect that the ICF rescues the other ones and takes them to their incubation area).
Again, it is hard to tell from the composition above how tall these creatures are, but it does give a better look at the spindly legs – quick measurements have those legs about the same length as the overall bird. Like the Blue Crane, this species is considered at a Conservation Status of Vulnerable with their population in decline – how sad.
By the way, this particular specimen was busy ridiculing my height for most of the time I was photographing it. It would call out to its mate with some obviously comical/taunting statement (based on the laughing response that was returned) and then shorten its stature in a mocking gesture… like in this following shot!
Real funny Mr. Wattles – just be glad you are on the other side of the fence or I’d be pulling some wicked Karate Kid Crane Style moves on ya!
For the record, all images here are of Captive Cranes.