A Sandhill Crane and A Pair of Red-winged Blackbirds

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Red-winged Blackbirds are fierce protectors of their territories.  They will attack and chase all intruders, no matter their size.  Here’s a post I’ve shared back in 2018 of a Red-winged Blackbird chasing an Eagle who perched too close to his area!

So now enters the Sandhill Crane that I shared at the end of my last post.  It continued to walk around and feed, minding its own business.  Too many steps in one direction and suddenly the Sandhill Crane was under attack by a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds.

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Red-winged Blackbird (male) swooping the Sandhill Crane

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Red-winged Blackbird (female) sneaks up from behind for a hit

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Red-winged Blackbird (male) getting ready to dive down again on the Sandhill Crane

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Whoa, double attack!!

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Sandhill Crane trying to keep its eye on the Red-winged Blackbird as he circles back

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“Ouch!”

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Sandhill Crane now aggravated and showing who is the biggest here

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“I want no trouble.  And, you know, I am bigger than you…”

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Eye to eye contact between the female Red-winged Blackbird and Sandhill Crane

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Everyone beginning to relax, there’s no reason for all this commotion

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One last menacing stance, doing it’s best Clint Eastwood – “Go ahead, make my day.”

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The commotion ends and all is quiet again

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I heard, turned, and redirected my focus on the Mute Swans to my left when out of the corner of my eye I saw the Sandhill Crane take flight.  I guess it was taking the cue to leave.  S/he flew right past me.

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Sandhill Crane in flight

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Sandhill Crane in flight

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If you know the Sandhill Crane, you may have noticed this one had heavy rusty coloring.  Normally more gray, some with a bit of tan, I looked into what might be up with this one.

And……During breeding season, Sandhill Cranes preen their feathers with iron-rich mud, dyeing them to a rusty coloring.  Whether its to add color to their mating displays, or to help them camoflauge better in tall marsh reeds, the dyed feathers eventually molt after breeding season ends and grow back to their grayish color in time for migration.

Looks like this one loved the mud baths!

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