At the Blue Stripe Café...

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... you can talk all night (and shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

The photo was taken at 5:49 this morning. The actual sunrise time was 5:45. I almost did not make it out to my vantage point. As I stepped onto the trail in the twilight, I heard the loudest, craziest crane noise I have ever heard. I kept going, the noise stopped, but then I saw — up ahead, on the hill about 20 feet away from the trail — 2 very large cranes standing side by side. They were not moving away. They had their territory staked out, and I was the intruder. I considered turning around and leaving, but I decided to keep going. Do cranes attack? I didn't think they were sandhill cranes, because I didn't see the red patch on their head, and they were strangely huge. But I've researched the sound of all the large birds at that location, and I have to admit that they were sandhill cranes, which I think of as friendly. But these things were spooky. I really did not trust them at all.

Ah, here is an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette about the dangerousness of sandhill cranes:
Sandhills are big. They’re as tall as humans, with a wingspan approaching 7 feet.... Sandhill cranes are also delicious... “the prime rib of game birds” or “ribeye in the sky”.... Imagine a crumpled marionette suddenly springing to life as the puppeteer lifts its strings. Glenn’s crane [the crane Glenn shot] did that.... My brave friend now finds himself eye to eye with a fiercely angry bird, a bird with a foot-long rapier for a beak, a bird with an eagle’s talons, a bird now trying to pounce on my back-pedaling buddy.... I am standing now beside another crane [which] decides to re-enact the drama just played out. A scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds races through my head — the scene where the guy’s eyes get pecked out by seagulls. Only this is no itty-bitty seagull. It’s the bloodthirsty pterodactyl from Jurassic Park. Wilkerson screams again: “Shoot him! Shoot him!” And just as the demon is about to thrust his beak through my pounding heart, I do. Wilkerson had warned us. “Cranes can be dangerous,” he said. “Be careful how you approach birds, even when they look like they’re dead.” On another day... [a] man had [a] sandhill’s neck in a death-grip, but again and again the bird buried its knifelike beak in his face. The talons of one foot were embedded in the man’s arm; those of the other were locked in his thigh. Fortunately, the bird’s thrusting bill missed his eyes, but the hunter was frightfully injured and had to be transported to a hospital... I figured out then why there are no crane dogs to retrieve the birds. Imagine a Labrador or Chesapeake shish kebab. Picture your favorite hunting dog carried off in the talons of your game....

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