This Morning Outside
by Diane Porter
Oct. 27, 2014
Standing up straight, Wattled Cranes are taller than I am. They are called "wattled" for the white feathery lobes that swing under the chin.
Cranes express themselves with their bare, red, bumpy face patches by changing the shape and intensity of the red. Kind of like human blushing, but more complex and nuanced. Other cranes know exactly what they mean.
Wattled Cranes don't have much tail, but the secondary feathers of their wings are very long and black. Decorative. The cranes use these specialized wing feathers in their courtship.
The photo above at right shows how long the wattle actually is. I don't know if anyone knows how the wattle functions in the Wattled Cranes' lives.
Now 7000 Wattled Cranes survive, in the southern lobe of Africa. Fewer each year. Wattled Cranes need wetlands, and, well, you know how hard it is for us humans to let a wetland be.
The International Crane Foundation works to help save the cranes in the lands where they are native. The Foundation is also working to educate the public about cranes. One of their programs lets people see all 15 species at the center in Wisconsin.
It's worth visiting. But be warned. You'll come away caring about what happens to the cranes of the world.
Photos © 2014 Diane Porter. All rights reserved.