A Crane-Full of Appreciation

Who knew a Sandhill crane with a crooked smile could warm your heart? During this busy spring season, we accepted hundreds of animals but one in particular stands out. On May 6, 2013 one of our experienced wildlife rescuers, Sam Custer, went out to investigate a report of an injured Sandhill crane in Punta Gorda. When she arrived, one juvenile crane was trapped in a fence with his parents and sibling nearby.

Sam rescued the trapped crane but then noticed the other juvenile crane had a beak that was crisscrossed. Since his deformed beak would inhibit the ability to feed himself, Sam rescued him too. The crane trapped in the fence sustained spinal trauma and unfortunately did not survive. However, the crisscrossed patient was another story. Since he was only a juvenile when found, the crisscrossed beak most likely was a birth defect and not an injury.

Due to his disability, he was deemed non-releasable and became a new member of our resident crane flock. In addition to his beak, he also developed another issue when his right ankle became permanently swollen. His strut is a little awkward but don’t let that fool you because he can outrun our adult cranes. Our lead rehabber, Cara Brown, named him “Chickie-pants” (don’t ask me, but somehow it works).

Our resident adult cranes were not too excited to have a youngster moving in and they are still adjusting. You will notice if you visit the center that Chickie is the most curious and spunky of our cranes. He is every volunteer cleaner’s assistant when they are working around the pelican pond. Come visit Chickie-Pants and see how a young crane with a crazy smile will bring a smile to your face!

– By Amy Rhoads

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