Photo: A siege of cranes takes to the sky

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Our photo of the day comes from California's Merced National Wildlife Refuge.

It is hard not to succumb to the charms of collective nouns for animal groups. Sure a "flock" would do; but a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, an exaltation of larks and a murmuration of starlings say it with so much more poetry and pizzazz.

Some animal groups have just one or two collective nouns, but cranes seem to have sparked a whole collection of them, including a "construction," "dance," "sedge," "herd," "swoop," and "seige." This beautiful photo of sandhill cranes taken by Rick Derevan serves as the perfect illustration proving any one of those descriptions appropriate.

However, given their wingspans of nearly 7 feet and the exuberant bustle of drooping feathers, I can only imagine how this scenario must have sounded. Which is why Rick's caption, "Crane Blast-Off," could surely serve as inspiration for a new collective noun for the leggy beauties ... a blast of cranes.

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