Birds communicate in incredible ways! We’re taking a closer look at how sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, and the American woodcock move and groove to find a mate or find a meal.
How do you move throughout your day? Can you spin like a crane, wobble like a woodcock, or strut like a turkey?
Sandhill cranes can be found in large swathes of the US and are distinctive with their long beaks, necks, and legs which they use to communicate with one another.
Before nesting season, sandhill cranes participate in what many scientists call a “dance”. Cranes will hop, flap their wings, and squawk to show off how they might defend their nest from predators. Cranes mate for life and will dance together all year round!
Do you think you can dance like a crane? Follow these steps!
Step 1: Spread your arms wide like wings and jump up and down.
Step 2: Spin around in a circle while flapping your wings.
Step 3: Bow up and down quickly, bobbing your head to show off your feathers!
The wild turkey is found throughout the United States, mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. The male turkey or “tom” can grow up to 24 pounds, and the female turkey or “hen” can grow up to 12 pounds. Unlike domesticated turkeys, wild turkeys can fly! You might find them perched in a tree for the night, but they generally stay close to the ground during the day.
Toms will strut, or puff out all of their feathers, spread out their tails, and drag their wings along the ground while walking back and forth, to attract a mate. They’ll also make sounds like gobbling, drumming or booming, and spitting.
Can you strut like a turkey? Follow these steps!
(If you have a paper fan, you can use it as your turkey tail. No fan? You can pretend or use your spread out fingers as your turkey tail!)
Step 1: Hold the fan or your fingers behind your back and spread the fan or fingers wide.
Step 2: Strut or slowly walk in one direction, shaking your wings (arms), for a few steps.
Step 3: Turn around and strut back to where you began.
The American woodcock is a common bird with a long beak that can be found along the eastern US in fields, wet forests, dewey thickets, or brushy swamps. This distinctive looking bird has an equally interesting way that it might look for its favorite snack, worms!
American woodcocks can be seen holding their head and eyes perfectly still as they rock their bodies forward and backward. Scientists believe that the vibrations caused by this “dance” disturb the earthworms into moving, alerting the woodcock that lunch is near!
Can you hunt for worms like the American woodcock?
Step 1 : Stand up straight and take note of holding your head perfectly still.
Step 2: Move your torso and neck backward, lift up one foot (keep that head steady!).
Step 3: Move your torso and neck forward, place your foot forward.
Step 4: Repeat to slowly move your whole body forward.
Step 5: Keep your eye out for worms!
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