Sandhill cranes back where they belong
Birds released after being rehabilitated
Three sandhill cranes nursed back from injuries or abandonment over the summer are back in the wild and will join a block that will migrate to Florida in about a month.
Pat Fisher of The Feather Rehabilitation Center near New London released the birds Oct. 24.
Four tall, wooden boxes stood side-by-side at the edge of a farm field as dozens of cranes fed in the distance. As the four wooden doors slid up, the feathered patients made their escape, decorated with leg tags marking them for future identification.
One was the lone survivor of a truck that hit a family of cranes in Antigo. Another was captured at Bay Beach in Green Bay near a dead adult, believed to be its mother, found near a road. Another was found caught in a barbed wire fence in Stephensville.
The fourth crane, a good month behind the others in age and size, was discovered June 25 running along a highway in Mora, Minn., a fuzzy chick only a few days old. Roseanne Joa of the Twin Cities scooped it up and took it to a local rehabilitation center, which put her in touch with Fisher, an expert in working with cranes.
The four cranes spent the summer in the complex of cages at The Feather, which Fisher operates on donations, fees for public appearances, her own savings and the help of dedicated volunteers.
Fisher timed the release to the gathering up of cranes into large flocks for migration. They spend the summer, for the most part, in pairs raising one or two colts in their own territory.
Joa and a friend made the trip from Minnesota to witness the release of the young female crane she named Sammy, but it was not to be.
Sammy refused to take flight. Efforts to scare her toward the flock were unsuccessful. The young bird instead rushed back to the safety of the boxes.
She will spend a few more weeks at The Feather before Fisher tries to release her again. Failing that, Sammy will spend the winter in one of the heated cages at The Feather and be offered another chance to live the true life of a crane when the flock returns in spring.