Today along Forsayth Road I came across five Bustards strutting their stuff across a fallow paddock.
Winter on the Atherton Tablelands bring us birds which spend other parts of the year elsewhere. The more distant of these two males Bustards is the older bird. While we often have the odd Bustard on the inner Tablelands, it is now that their numbers increase and one might see a dozen in a paddock. The males can inflate their throat pouch when displaying. Bustards fly with slow deliberate wing beats.
The Sarus Cranes were feeding next door. These stately birds breed in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria wetlands but many winter, or rather spend the dry season, here. Australia's other crane, the Brolga, has only a small red patch on the back of the head. As you can see the Sarus Cranes have an extensive red area. Their legs are pink in contrast to the grey of the Brolga.
Sarus Cranes dance to build and maintain their pair bonds. Pirouettes, bows and high hops are accompanied by high pitched calls. As the season progresses they become more intense in this and will often throw high above their heads the grass or sticks they have in their bills. This second year bird has not yet developed the full red on the head and neck nor the pink legs. It is not stopped by this in practising a few dance steps.