Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Kid In Town

If you have been out to World Bird Sanctuary this past summer you may have noticed an area of the exhibit line that was roped off.

 If you took the time to stop and look at the area you might have noticed a small brown fuzz ball on legs in the early part of the summer, and toward the end of the summer a teenager sized crane hanging out.  Our two injured Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) Shawnee and Menomenee, originally from Wisconsin, hatched their first chick this summer.

 New Sandhill Crane baby (photo: Cathy Spahn)
Sandhill Cranes are found throughout North America.  The northern populations are migratory.  Sandhill cranes have the largest wildlife spectacle we can see here in North America.  As the cranes migrate From February to early April hundreds of thousands to over a million Sandhill Cranes will pass through and temporarily stay in a small area of Nebraska along the Platte River.

I have always enjoyed cranes, but when I first saw their gathering along the Platte River I fell in love with this amazing species.  Seeing the amazing amount of birds, hearing their call, and then watching this bird dance I could not help but fall in love. 

There are 6 subspecies of Sandhill Crane; 5 of them are found here in North America. 

Sandhill Cranes stand between 34-48 inches tall and have a wingspan of 73-90 inches.

When our two cranes first arrived at WBS I worked on doing some basic training, which helped with getting them more comfortable around me.  With the help of me rewarding them with superworms (a beetle larva that kind of looks like a worm), the cranes became more relaxed and would allow me to enter the cage.  As long as I kept 6 or more feet between them and I, they were comfortable.

Over the last few years they have become more vocal.  This year they laid a few eggs, and one of them hatched.  This little one we nicknamed Clyde after the middle name of Walter C. Crawford Jr, our Founder and Executive Director, who passed away in July.  This youngster was one of Walt’s last projects with us.
As with all birds, Sandhill Cranes grow rapidly...almost ready for release (photo: Cathy Spahn)

Clyde, our youngster, has now been released at the Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge in the northwestern part of Missouri.  In fact, Clyde is the first ever, captive bred Sandhill Crane to be released into the wild in the State of Missouri.  Clyde seems to be integrating well with a small flock of Sandhill Cranes that resides in that area.

If you like Shawnee or Menomenee (named after places in Wisconsin where they are from) you may adopt one or both of them.  To adopt a bird Click Here, or call 636-861-3225 and ask for Marion.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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