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South African Grey Crane

South African Grey Crane
Photo Information
Copyright: Neels Gunter (corjan3) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 430 W: 49 N: 964] (4707)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2011-04-01
Categories: Birds
Exposure: f/5.8, 1/640 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2011-04-02 8:47
Viewed: 4046
Points: 32
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
They grow to nearly one metre in height and prefer marshes with adjacent grasslands as seen here in its natural habitat in the wild. It is unusual for these magnificent birds to breed in captivity or in parks with restricted extent. Hand-held at fully extended 840 mm optical zoom from a distance of possibly 100 m and substantially cropped and enlarged.

“The Grey-Crowned Crane - Balearica regulorum
by Janis O’Grady

1 August 2003

The … Grey-Crowned Crane … is one of the only cranes to roost in trees and the most primitive crane – it is thought to resemble the many pre-Pliocene fossils from North America and central Asia. "The first crane-like birds, which appeared in the age of dinosaurs, were somewhat similar in body dimensions to a modern crowned crane or its smaller and more aquatic relative, the limpkin" (Matthiessen 2003).
The Grey-Crowned Crane is globally restricted to Africa where the South African population, and the populations of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, make up the smaller population of the two subspecies. Within South Africa, this ancient crane has been sighted in the moist, higher rainfall regions of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the North-eastern Free State, as well as the Eastern regions of Mpumalanga. … This species faces widespread degradation of its breeding and feeding habitats and is still persecuted by landowners in some areas – who think that the bird is eating crops whereas they are more likely to be eating insects on those crops (McCann 2002). Over the past two decades, Grey-Crowned Crane numbers have declined by about 15% due to increased human-induced impacts.

4.1. Biological needs
Grey-Crowned Cranes nest within or on the edges of wetlands where they build a strong nest from the tall wetland plants, cleverly concealed from predators and the prying eyes of people. They like to forage in open grasslands adjacent to wetlands where they eat grass seeds, insects and other invertebrates … Unlike other crane species, this crane roosts in trees – its voice has considerable harmonic development and can be heard for miles – cranes use many different calls to communicate and can be very boisterous upon returning to the roost (Cooley 1993). Non-migratory, they do move around locally and in the winter months, large flocks of non-breeding Grey-Crowned Cranes can be found dancing and calling before the onset of the summer breeding period. …

4.2. Breeding
Grey-Crowned Cranes … reach maturity at the age of three to four years and once they have found a mate, they usually lay 2 – 3 large smooth eggs in a wetland nest surrounded by tall reeds, secluded from predators. These spring and summer breeders incubate their eggs for about 30 days and take their chicks out onto a nursery area of flattened reeds before they venture into the real world to forage. Chicks fledge at 3 – 4 months and leave their parents when almost a year old to join one of the non-breeding flocks where they look for a mate.

4.3. Threats
… the Grey-Crowned Crane is threatened with habitat loss (wetlands and grasslands) as well as management of these ecosystems: burning of firebreaks and grazing methods have to be properly controlled by the farmer if Grey-Crowned Cranes are resident on his land. … Powerline collisions are another prevalent threat to this primitive bird especially when it is flying in flocks in misty or rainy conditions, to and from tree roosts. The Grey-Crowned Crane now has a price on its head (in) South and Southern Africa due to its extreme beauty and sacred status in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and Uganda in Southern Africa (where it is the national bird). Recently the human threat has intensified and many Grey-Crowned Crane chicks and eggs are being taken out of the wild for the international bird trade, or to keep as status symbol pets. Poisoning is another problem faced by this crane and whether deliberate for food or unintentional when secondary, this threat requires strict management of the use of agrochemicals. In the past, farmers killed cranes deliberately if they were perceived to be causing crop damage; today, farm workers often put down poisons to catch cranes or other species for extra food protein, ignorant that they are putting themselves in danger. Other threats include domestic dog predation, fences, and "accidental" shootings (McCann 2002).

4.4. Responses to threats
With only some 4 000 Grey-Crowned Cranes left in South Africa today, conservationists are increasing their efforts to understand the bird better, both biologically and geographically. SACWG fieldworkers are participating in a national education and awareness programme aimed at farm workers (the eyes and ears of the land), school pupils and teachers, other groups and networks and the general public. Regular media articles and marketing drives assist with funding measures and fieldwork includes monitoring, population management, threat reduction and more. Farmers are one of the main "target groups" as very few cranes breed in reserves – most are found on private land and it is up to the landowners … now to decide whether these birds have a future or not. …
In the words of Aldo Leopold (1949): "Some day, perhaps in the very process of our benefactions, perhaps in the fullness of geologic time, the last crane will trumpet his farewell and spiral skyward from the great marsh…"
- http://www.ecotravel.co.za/Guides/Wildlife/Vertebrates/Birds/Grey-Crowned_Crane.htm

maaciejka, brech, anel, uleko, bungbing, maurydv, Mamagolo2, Pitoncle, vanda, ikeharel has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To uleko: Your versioncorjan3 1 04-03 09:22
To anel: Truly wildcorjan3 1 04-03 08:34
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2011-04-02 9:05]

Hi Neels,an excellent work in a terrible backlight from the water.Great focus,sharpness and colors,a beautiful bird taken very well,impossible to make better.Thanks for share,have a nice weekend,Luciano

Dear friend Neels,
Hello! how are you?
Well, today you show us this amazing bird.Really wonderful ! I see that you had some troubles to take this pic, but never mind! Lovely composition and even without optimum brightness your bird has good colors and sharpness. Well done, my friend! TFS
Have a nice w-end!

Ciao Neels, great capture of lovely walking bird with beautiful colors, terrific backlight, splendid sharpness and fine details, very well done my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hi Neels,
very interesting bird.
Perfect point of view.
Very good sharpness and colours.
Have a nice weekend,

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2011-04-02 13:28]

Hello Neels,
Beautiful photo of this Grey-crowned Crane in its natural environment. Good light management with this difficult light condition. Good sharpness and composition.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2011-04-03 3:04]

Hello Neels.
Very nice picture of Grey-Crowned Crane. Good composition, pose, POV, sharpness of details, lighting and natural bright colours.Best regards Siggi

Hello Neels,

Last year I had a couple of cranes visiting right outside my back yard, and the size of those birds are very impressive!
This fellow has this great headgear too hehehe...
A pleasant composition with good colours!

Pablo -

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2011-04-03 6:05]
  • [+]

Hello Neels,
It's what I call a natural shot and it's true we mostly see this species on pictures taken in parcs and zoos.
Lovely vertical framing and a picture for me which is very pleasant with all the space around which permits to our imagination to be outside in the wild..
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2011-04-03 7:03]

Hello Neels,
A fine capture of the African Grey Crowned Crane. The semi-alterla POV shows its features with excellent sharpness and colours in lighting made difficult by its reflection on the BG water. The composition with the vegetation at the water's edge is great.
Thanks and kind regards,

Hello Neels,
A wonderful capture of this elegant Crane that's nicely in focus here. Great sharpness and beautiful colours too. I only find the glare from the water too dominating so I tried a workshop. I hope you dont mind?
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

Hi Neels,
Nice composition, difficult under the circumstances, you have done a good job with this picture,

Hallo Neels,
a beautiful picture of the Grey-Crowned Crane, good sharpness and bright natural colours, nice composition with a very beautiful environment
Best regards

Hello Neels,
What a beautiful scene. Truly a good capture of this Grey Crane. Very well done and thanks for sharing.

Bonjour Neels,
La lumière n'est pas excellente avec un arrière plan qui me semble surexposé mais le sujet est tout de même relativement bien valorisé dan son environnement.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • vanda Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 338 W: 25 N: 754] (3673)
  • [2011-04-05 10:56]

Hi Neels!
Despite the horrible backlight, your capture is very good with fine details of the bird.
Well composed.
Ciao! Vanda

Hello Neels,
Fabulous take on the magnificent and impressive Grey-Crane, on it's natural environment on water front.
Best regards

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2011-04-27 6:15]

Hello Neels,
this is a lovely capture of the pretty crane. The plaxe iaao exciting to see. I think I saw this one in the zoo, but your is livelier, in its real place with grasses and lake.
so nice to see the real animal enjoyinh their life in a free and undisturbed environment.
Well seen and must congratulate you for the patience in producing this shot.
Very interesting capture in its originality.


PS- Thanks I looked into the adventure of the friends you told. They are really wonderful people.

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