Do Sandhill Cranes Have Feathers on Their Faces?

Posted by Nancy on 3/25/2015 to Learn More About Birds

Question:  Hi, I met you at the Wings Over Willcox.  I always thought that the Sandhill Cranes didn't have feathers on their face, but when I went out to see them it looked like they had red feathers on their face.  Did I misunderstand the book?

Answer:  What you are seeing is the papilla, a bumpy structure that covers part of the crown and forehead of the crane.  The papilla has blood vessels close to the surface of the skin.  When the vessels become engorged with blood while displaying, the skin becomes bright red and it can look like feathers.  To further the feathery look, thin black plumes cover bare skin.  It is deceiving isn't it?

PS  I want to thank you again for purchasing your Sandhill Crane t-shirt.  I hope you are enjoying it and that it reminds you of your trip to Wings Over Willcox.

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