Dancing Cranes

We were out at the “Crane” ponds along Rt 1 north of the visitor center at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (Socorro, New Mexico, USA) to catch the Sandhill Cranes flying in to their night roost in the shallow water. The sun had already set, 15 minutes before, and the high desert river valley New Mexico dark was descending fast. We were already in ISO 6400 territory and shutter speeds too slow for comfort for the active birds. But when these two cranes decided to have a go at each other right in front of me, of course I swung the camera around and got off a burst. This ritualized combat, or dance, is part of the mating ritual and, though Sandhill Cranes mate for life, and only breed once a year, the courting goes on all year long. You are likely to see this happening somewhere in the flock any time of day. The trick is be looking at the right birds at the right moment, as the whole interaction only lasts, at least outside mating season, a few seconds. Since the colors were not strong this late in the day, I decided to process this image as a black-and-white. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. Processed in Polarr.

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