By Joseph McFarlane
Don’t mess with an angry dad! This male crane wasn’t going to let any harm come to his newly-hatched youngsters – and was caught on camera fighting off a black BEAR who thought they were easy pickings.
Judy Lehmberg had been filming the two sandhill cranes in Yellowstone National Park as they hatched two eggs on a small island in the middle of the lake.
After seeing the baby chicks born, Judy, a retired biology professor, was delighted to see the proud parents guiding their young off the island and across the lake to help them search out food.
But when she spotted a black bear approaching, she assumed the chicks and their parents would end up as dinner.
Amazingly, the male sandhill appears to show no fear when confronted by the bear – and angrily spreads his wings in a show of defiance.
Despite being easily able to take the bird out in a single swipe, the bear turns on his tail and runs away – climbing up a tree to escape the bird.
Judy said: “We had been watching the cranes for a couple of weeks, when the parents took the chicks across the lake and we saw this bear.
“We all assumed the worst; that the black bear would attack and kill the babies, and maybe the adult male, since he was very aggressive towards intruders.
“When the black bear made it ashore it was obvious it didn’t know the sandhills were there. It wandered about for a few seconds. But the male sandhill knew exactly where the bear was. It got up on a large rock, spread its wings out to look as large and as menacing as possible and jumped towards the bear. The bear was startled and ran off a few yards. Then it regained its composure and came back.
“The male sandhill was in full attack mode by then and chased the bear up a tree. The bear, rather sheepishly, came back down, as if it was embarrassed it had let a bird chase it up a tree.
“The male sandhill came after it again and again the bear went up the tree. When it came down the second tree it was obvious it had had enough and ran off.
“We talked about that for a long time as we never ever expected that outcome.”