The Faithful Sarus Crane
It is the tallest flying bird in the world.
The body is mainly pale grey, the head and the upper part of the neck are bright red the middle part of which appears darker. There appears to be a dot in the face which is its ear. It appears to be wearing a grey cap on its crown which is continuous with its grey beak . The eyes are like red marbles. The tail appears paler with long, ruffled feathers. The male appears to be taller than the female. The bright red patch on the neck is smaller in the female.
According to the folklore in India, the Sarus crane is believed to be a symbol of faithfulness. This is represented in our ancient art and brass figurines. It is also said that killing one would cause the other one to die of grief. I think this holds true because I have always seen them in pairs.
I had a chance to see them in the breeding season in Basai wetland. Unlike the Indian Peafowl, where only the male dances, both male and female dance jumping around in shallow water with wings outstretched trying to impress each other like excited kids who have just found a puddle of water to splash around.
The larger nest is made mainly with wheat straw on the ground itself. The female very patiently incubates while the male keeps a watch for danger while tending to her with love and care. Male also keeps reinforcing the nest.
The Sarus crane has been classified as vulnerable to extinction.
The spot in the picture above has been taken over by urbanisation. Hunting in the past reduced their population. It is severely affected by climate change because unseasonal and heavy rains can cause flooding of its nesting areas and drought affects availability of food. As they are rarely in large flocks, there is no safety in numbers.