Headed to the Corn Fields
Bosque del Apache NWR, 0630 hrs, Flight Deck, Nikon D500 & Nikkor 80-400mm lens at 400mm (600mm effective) ISO:800, 1/750 sec, f/5.6
Before sunrise most of the Sandhill cranes roosting in the man made lake begin walking east-north, toward their destination and slightly into the wind. They leave the sanctuary of the water and fly out to the planted corn and alfalfa fields of Bosque to eat during the day. These four Sandhill cranes are headed north for the corn fields.
Most of the time Sandhill cranes live in family groups; two adults and one offspring. During migration and winter unrelated birds band together in what is known as "survival groups" of 4-10. They watch out for each other.
Sandhill cranes mate for life, choosing their partners based on how well they can dance literally. They stretch out their wings, jump up and down, beat their wings slowly and grab grass or other debris on the ground and toss it into the air. You can see this behavior at Bosque in the winter. It's a really special place for the birds (and humans).
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