Millie and Roy are always watchful and wary. In the late summer, Pi cautiously peers at his world: food items, predators, and other birds or mammals. Perhaps it was just curiosity led him to attempt to preen his parents' feathers, as shown below.
Individual cranes frequently preen their own wing and back feathers. We have never seen Millie and Roy preen one another but preening of another individual (allopreening) is common in parrots. On several occasions in September, when Millie, Roy, and Pi were preening themselves, Pi touched Millie's back feathers, seeming to investigate the uropygial (preen) gland near the base of her tail. Millie discouraged PI's investigations.
Was PI begging for food? Or could PI have been attracted to odorous secretions from the uropygial gland? The glands of Eurasian Cranes contain odorous substances that could be pheromones. To the best of our knowledge, no one has investigated the chemical composition of uropygial secretions of Sandhill Cranes.
Roy and Millie frequently take colts on excursions. The video shows a late summer stroll through the woods and across our yard to forage and to eat gravel in the driveway. Pi is jumpy on the unfamiliar turf.