Swimming cranes

During his vacation Silvio Richter recently took an extraordinary picture from afar: He observed two adult cranes swimming across the river Havel.

Juvenile cranes use their innate swimming abilities from the second day of their life to explore the surroundings of their nesting site. Adult cranes, on the other hand, avoid swimming because it is exhausting for them without webbed feet. Adult cranes use this type of movement only in the case of high water levels to reach their nest. Therefor, rivers and other waterbodies are usually crossed flying.

We cannot say with certainty why these two cranes crossed the river on the waterway. However, it can be assumed that the birds were moulting or were forced to flee across the river due to a  disturbance. During the complete moult, which occurs every 3 to 4 years, cranes are not able to fly. For about 5 weeks they are very shy, avoid open terrain and have a large flight distance. If they feel watched or even pushed into a corner, they quickly flee to the nearest cover. A natural barrier, as in this case the wide river bed of the Havel, can only be crossed swimming. For this reason Silvio Richters photo is an exceptionally rare impression.

© Silvio Richter

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© Crane Conservation Germany 2017-2019

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