Giving Challenge and Wally the Sandhill Crane

This coming Tuesday, May 6 from noon to noon the following day, Wednesday May 7 Peace River Wildlife Center will be involved with an online fundraising initiative.  The Giving Challenge is sponsored by The Giving Partner, a local foundation dedicated to helping donors make more informed decisions about giving.


During that 24 hour time period, donors can make their tax-deductible donations of $25 or more to their favourite non-profit organization (like PRWC!) online, with a chance to have that donation doubled.  Local foundations are contributing $660,000 in matching dollars and grant incentives.  All donations made to PRWC will be used to benefit the Center and its milssion to rehabilitate injured and orphaned native Florida wildlife.


One of our critical needs, at this time of year especially, is baby bird brooders.  We take in up to 10 hatchling, nestling, and fledgling birds each day.  All of these babies need to be placed in a warm, dark place—and hand fed every 15-20 minutes!  Our current brooders have cracks in the walls from years of use and repeated cleaning and disinfecting, so they do not hold the proper temperature and humidity that the baby birds need to thrive.  Each unit costs approximately $600 and we would like to replace all 6 of our current machines.


Visit PRWC’s website at or for more information.  Last year the Giving Partner Challenge raised almost $3 million in 36 hours, with PRWC laying claim to almost $1,000 of that money.  This year the time has been whittled down to 24 hours and PRWC is determined to put the fun in fundraising by keeping our supporters informed.  There will be matching dollars and periodic challenges throughout the event.  Follow our progress on the leaderboard on Giving Partner’s website and PRWC’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.


Not every baby bird that comes into PRWC ends up in one of our brooders.  Some of them are too big to fit in the tiny boxes.  Sandhill cranes are some of the biggest babies we see.  (Other than one or two of our volunteers!)


Everyone in the Punta Gorda area has seen the mated pair of sandhill cranes that live in the vicinity of the Wal-Mart store on the corner of North Jones Loop Road and Taylor Road.  Each spring since long before the store was built there in 2007, this pair has raised their families, consisting of one or two colts (baby sandhill cranes) a year.  As the youngsters get older, the family strolls around the grounds of the store’s parking lot and across two busy roads, never in a hurry.  Local folk are aware of this beautiful crane family and for the most part slow down or stop as necessary to ensure the safety of the birds.  Until recently.


This year the Wal-Mart cranes have two colts again.  And again, as they have in previous years, the colts are at the fledgling age where they are starting to get their adult flight feathers and walking about with their parents.  Unfortunately this year one driver did not stop to allow the cranes to cross the road.  Other drivers had slowed or stopped for the family as it crossed over Taylor Road this past Friday, but observers claim one driver made no attempt to avoid the slow-moving birds.  Some claim it looked like he may have intentionally hit the bird.


Charlotte County Animal Control officer Ronelle Moore responded to the call.  As she approached the injured bird, one of the parents corralled the other youngster safely off to the side of the busy road.  The other parent charged at Moore.  She stopped, gave the bird a determined look and proceeded, stating, “I know you are trying to protect your baby, but so am I.  Peck me if you must, but I have to get this baby off the road.”  The parent backed off and allowed Moore to gently cradle the colt in her arms and deliver it to the local wildlife rehabilitation facility.


So now a young sandhill crane is at Peace River Wildlife Center recovering from a broken leg and fighting for his life.  The fracture itself was fairly minor, but in this delicate species, at this dangerous age, the outcome could still be disastrous.  It is impossible to keep these long-legged birds off their feet for a fracture to heal.  If the fast-growing bird does not exercise his legs, irreparable damage will be done to the joints and ligaments, making him unable to walk correctly for the rest of his life.  Daily handling of the nervous bird can result in a condition called capture myopathy, where the stress causes his muscles to atrophy.


The staff at PRWC has its work cut out for it.  This is such a great example of why people should be ever vigilant when behind the wheel of a vehicle.  We are blessed in this area to still have an abundance of wildlife, unlike bigger cities like Miami or New York where animals are rare.  Please pay attention while driving.  There are sandhill cranes, gopher tortoises, and rabbits on the roads that we have slapped down in the middle of their habitats.  There are also children out there that can be hurt just as easily.  Do not text, talk on the phone, eat, apply make-up, or any of the other million things that can cause an accident.  And if this was not an accident, shame on the heartless person who would cause harm to a defenseless animal.