Dance of the Cranes

Courtship display of demoiselle cranes, MongoliaDemoiselle cranes have their own strategy for surviving the extremes of the Mongolian steppe. They escape every winter, and return in spring to re-establish breeding territories.

The arrival of a male joining his mate ruffles territorial feathers. During the breeding season each pair defends an exclusive territory a few hundred metres across, to ensure they get the food and water they'll need to raise a family.

Once they've agreed on boundaries, the couples turn their attention to each other.

Cranes are long-lived, and often pair for life. Before they breed they renew their bonds in a demoiselle's pas de deux. Like all demoiselle cranes, this pair have returned to breed in the valley where they were born. To get back from their wintering grounds in India, they have flown three thousand kilometres over the Himalayas.

The still image is taken from an NHNZ Images movie clip. Check out other inspiring, intriguing and arresting moving images from NHNZ Images.