Adaptations: The Body
for labeled photo
Most bird bodies
don't tell much about the bird's life until you look carefully at the wings,
tail, and legs.
broad wings like a crane's take too much energy to flap long
distances. Like all birds, cranes must minimize the energy they need
over long distances. Birds with long, broad wings usually are long distance
migrants, or they hunt by soaring for long periods each day (like vultures
and some hawks). The pigment that makes a whooping crane's wing
feather tips black also makes those feathers stronger, which is important
on their long-distance flights.
- A whooping
crane's body is mostly covered with skin and feathers.
Important things are happening underneath!
- The heart
and lungs are so efficient that cranes can get enough oxygen
to fly even at high altitudes.
have a very short tail. Tails are useful for quick aerial maneuvers,
but cranes fly slowly and directly, or spiral upwards on thermals in
wide circles. That means a long tail wouldn't be useful for them, and
might actually drag in water, making it difficult to take off fast if
a predator suddenly appeared.