Don’t stand near those cousins!
Step away. Step away now, Sandy! It’s for your own protection.
For once, think of yourselves!
You know what it’s like: that cousin.
The one you’d rather not see – or stand next to in the pictures.
They’re always the cutest and most adored.
The ones that amuse adults with the witty remarks about current events – as well as (wink-wink) the celebrity gossip.
The ones using a great vocabulary (“They apply themselves in school – you could do the same.”)
Fair haired kid.
The vanguard of hope for the family name.
Stuck with them. They’re family.
(Fly Sandy, Fly while you can!)
No one would believe if you told, anyway.
That’s the cousin that hands you the bag of firecrackers and says, “Go around back. It’s OK.”
It’s the one that sees you running frantically towards the bathroom after all that spinach dip and Aunt Marge’s bean soup, and yells loudly, “There’s plenty of toilet paper.”
And there may be somewhere…but not in reach.
It’s the one that says “I’ll buy your soda if you fish out a Big Red for me.”
And you stand there, up to your armpit in the icy water of that old fashion metal ice box.
Frantically swishing the bottles around searching.
Then trying to appear totally unconcerned.
Ignoring the snorts and smirks while nonchalantly flapping that dripping frozen arm.
Vowing never again!
But deep inside, you know.
Everyone has to put up with one of those in the family, right?
So when recognizing the signs, do you warn another?
Seem a kindness to tip them off.
Sandy! Don’t stand next to your cousins!
Forget they are closely related.
Forget they share they same general body type and physiology.
Forget they like to travel the same routes.
Forget they like to live in the same places where you do.
Fly! Look out for yourself! It’s in your best interest!
You and yours are doing so well.
Comfortably succeeding in life.
Your group is growing in numbers. Better than ever hoped. Almost 600,00 strong.
Compared to those “special” cousins.
Their numbers hovering around 300.
Despite the fact they are sheltered, pampered, and given priority.
Despite their celebrity status meaning fan clubs and guides offering tours to those wishing - hoping for even a glimpse.
Birds of a feather flock together, but sandhill cranes would be wise to curtail their standing close to whooping cranes.
It hasn’t escaped notice by wildlife experts that the sandhill cranes are doing much better than the whooping cranes.
Which has Gabe Hamer, clinical assistant professor in the entomology department of A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and other researchers scratching their heads as the species are so similar.
Hoping to discover something that will improve the survival chances of whooping cranes, researchers are examining health risks faced by both species: parasite, viruses, and toxins.
(Now listen up cranes – no laughing.)
One method of study involves collecting and analyzing bird poop from both species.
Yes, they collected it from the cranes’ rest stops and habitats.
The second method in involves veterinarians in full hospital scrubs doing complete, in-depth physical examinations.
But whooping cranes can’t be disturbed, so sandhill cranes are acting as stand-ins.
Sounds a bit ticklish?
Actually it’s a tad rougher.
The two-hour exam has to be done on a dead sandhill crane.
Hunters have been recruited to shoot down
“volunteers” participants.(Hunters get the tasty breast meat)
Intrigued? Appalled? Curious about cranes, science, or hunting, read an article here.
All for moving the body of knowledge forward.
Nervously, feeling a little sympathy for the sandhill cranes, though.
Somehow the cousins always get the convertible and the rooms with the views of the water.
Maybe if the cranes came off their elevated perches and bothered to mimic their lesser cousins behavior?
Then no feathered would be harmed?
No need to ask, it’s family.
The lesser cousins, the sandhills, are willing to share secrets.
Whooping cranes are what they are: the most admired, the vanguard of the family name. But this time, struggling.
Sandhills just want to stand next to them – to be in the glow of reflected light.
Even if it means sloshing up to their armpits in cold water.
After all, it’s family
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.