Birds – Paradise Crane

We may now consider two rather closely related forms in which the bill is comparatively short, and the convolutions of the windpipe within the keel of the breast-bone much less than in most Cranes. The face and crown are wholly feathered, and there are lengthened pointed feathers pendent from the breast, while the tertiary plumes of the wings are so much elongated as to be often mistaken for the tail when the wings are closed. Of these the Paradise or Stanley Crane (Tetrapteryx paradisea) is a native of South Africa. It is a handsome bird, about fifty-two inches long, leaden blue in color, with the upper parts of the head white and the tips of the long, drooping plumes black. It appears to be rather generally distributed throughout its range, though nowhere very abundant, frequenting mostly the open country in pairs and often at a distance from water. It feeds in the wild state on small bulbs, seeds, rep-tiles, insects, and small mammals, and is then very shy and difficult of approach, but it is readily tamed and may be fed from the hands on a great variety of sub-stances. Of its habits in the Transvaal Mr. Thomas Ayres writes : ” These Cranes are not at all uncommon in this country. In the summer months they are generally seen in pairs, stalking about the open flats in search of insects; in winter they congregate in certain localities and live sociably together. These birds feed on seeds and roots as well as on insects, and their flesh is not at all bad eating. Blue Cranes (as this species is locally called) sometimes rise to an immense height in the air, uttering their peculiar loud guttural note. When on the ground they frequently amuse themselves by dancing around each other, with wings extended, bowing and scraping to each other in a most absurd manner, not a little curious to see.”