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You're to be forgiven if you thought that the Olympics are a purely human endeavor. Not so. It seems that birds get into the spirit of the games as well. They have their own competitions with a diversity of multi-species contestants that rival our own multi-ethnic diversity. Readying themselves below for the 10,000m Fly-Off are many White-faced Ibises, some Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets, and one brave and plucky competitor, the Great Blue Heron.

The competitors line up, waiting for the starting gun:

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The tension mounts. Oops. False start.

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They ready themselves again trying to settle back in their starting blocks. A Great Egret jockeys a bit for better position. Once again, the tension mounts as the contestants are poised to rocket themselves forward.

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And then the crack of the gun! And they're off, the White-faced Ibises strong off the blocks, thrusting themselves forward as they take to the air for a commanding lead!

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Amazing! The White-faced Ibises are airborne before some of the other competitors even leave their starting positions!

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That's all she wrote, folks . . . the White-faced Ibises leave behind all the other competitors as if they're standing still! It's gold medals all around for the incredible White-faced Ibises that absolutely dominated this event!

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My oh my, what an exciting event that was! Before the race, this reporter had the opportunity to observe the Team Ibis coach offering some animated advice and motivational words to one of his charges. Here, the coach can be seen delivering a pep talk. I heard him say, over and over again, "You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!"

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I wondered if the judges had anything to say. The Head Line Judge, a Double-crested Cormorant, only murmured and didn't want to speak to the press.

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I decided to seek out some of the other judges to see what they had to say, but as soon as they saw me with microphone in hand, they took off. Press credentials seemed to have no sway with this group.

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I wondered what some of the aerial judges had to say from their embedded positions where they could watch the flight portion of the race unobstructed, but they, too, had little interest in speaking. White-tailed Kites can be like that. They only seemed interested in discussing the race with each other. Besides, my microphone couldn't quite reach them even if they had been forthcoming.

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What about the spectators? Did they have anything to say? Did they ever! As you can see here, a whole gaggle of Caspian Terns were chattering away, beside themselves with excitement at the spectacle they'd just witnessed:

 "The most exciting race I've ever seen!" said one. "I wanted the Great Blue Heron to win," said another, "but I knew he was the dark horse. I mean dark bird."

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Another group of Caspian Terns were joined by a few of what might be Ringed-billed Gulls, one of whom is joining a Tern in squawking in delight. A Snowy Egret on the left seems fairly unimpressed, however.

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The complete dominance of Team White-faced Ibis took some of the wind of out the feathers of Team Egret's cheerleaders, seen here looking a bit deflated. The lone White-faced Ibis who infiltrated their ranks is being a good sport, observing the Olympic etiquette of not gloating in the face of a competitor's loss. That's truly Good Sportsbirdship.

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The last word on this magnificent match was offered by this Killdeer, still flapping its wings in applause at the conclusion of this exciting Bird Olympics event: "I thought it was just fantastic, and so very exciting! I just wish I were a little taller so I could see better. Those darn Egrets with their long necks get all the best views. But I loved it!"

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And our winners of the race? Where are they? After their superb performance, they enjoyed a victory lap and returned to the field, where the vanquished Great Egret and Great Blue Heron who were slow off the starting line greeted them with hearty congratulations. The medal ceremony will be held later and your intrepid reporter plans to be there to see the tiny gold medals placed around their outstretched necks. The Bird Olympics don't get more exciting than this, folks!

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Originally posted to Kestrel on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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