Birds of a feather feed together as cranes pass food to wild heron

Source : www.asahi.com

A Japanese crane feeds a wild gray heron through the enclosure from its beak at a zoo in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, on Nov. 21. (Naoyuki Mori)

HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--A pair of cranes are causing amazement by feeding a wild gray heron through their enclosure by the beak, a rare sight even for experts.

The act of compassion between species at Himeji City Zoo here has drawn a crowd at weekends.

The young gray heron appears almost daily in front of the cranes’ pen around 11 a.m. when the captive birds are fed treats of mackerel.

“I have never heard of such a story,” said Hiroyuki Masatomi, an expert in Japanese crane biology.

“(Feeding) is supposed to be an act between parents and their offspring. The cranes probably treat the gray heron as a substitute.”

The female crane, Ku, and male Sho are both 30 years old, a very advanced age in human terms.

The pair previously started to pass food to another wild gray heron around summer 1993 until the bird stopped visiting them around 2011.

The gray heron that is being fed is thought to be a different individual. It started to visit the cranes in late October, and has continued to return ever since.

“We want visitors to witness this rare sight with warm eyes,” said a zookeeper.

*The article was published on The Asahi Shimbun Digital on November 22, 2017 at 18:05 JST

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