Chickie Pants the Sandhill Crane
Chickie Pants the Sandhill Crane was admitted to PRWC in May 2013 along with a sibling. His brother had gotten caught in a barbed wire fence and had to be cut out. When the rescuer arrived, the crane that was tangled in the fence was not alone. His parents and sibling were waiting there with him. The young crane was transported to PRWC to treat the wounds sustained from his encounter with the barbed wire. The other young crane was scooped up also because his beak was slightly off-kilter and we had hoped his presence would keep the injured crane from being too stressed.
Unfortunately, Chickie’s brother did not survive his ordeal. He had suffered spinal trauma from struggling against his entanglement and passed away after several days despite intensive treatment. Chickie, on the other hand, thrived in captivity. As he grew though, his beak got more and more deformed. What had started as a minor scissor beak deviation, the top grew off to one side while the bottom curved to the other side, became so bad that Chickie would not have been able to feed himself in the wild. He requires timely trimming of the beak and certain foods in special bowls that allow him to eat.
After a few months with us, Chickie’s leg started to show signs of a problem also. His right “ankle” (a bird’s ankle joint is at the approximate level of a mammal’s knee) would twist inward at times when he was walking. It was subtle at first, but got progressively worse. We tried bracing it, but that did not help. X-rays showed that the bones were normal, but there was apparently a soft-tissue problem, similar to a football player with an MCL injury. We were completely unaware of Chickie having tried out for the Bucs, but perhaps if he had made the team they would have fared a little better than 9 wins and 7 losses this season. But since Chickie was sidelined with a medial collateral ligament injury anyway, it was probably a moot point.
Jason Eisele, DVM with Specialized Veterinary Services in Fort Myers performed orthopedic surgery on to stabilize the joint in January 2014. Screws were placed above and below the joint, and a thick nylon thread was stretched between the two to reinforce the joint against medial laxity.
Cool Facts about Sandhill Cranes
The Sandhill Crane does not breed until it is two to seven years old. It can live up to the age of 20. Mated pairs stay together year round, and migrate south as a group with their offspring.
- Habitat: Breeds in open marshes or bogs, and in wet grasslands and meadows. Feed in marshes and grain fields
- Food: Mostly grains and seeds, some insects, other invertebrates, and small vertebrates
- Nesting: Large mound of vegetation in water, floating or attached to vegetation
- Conservation: One of the few crane species in the world that is still common. Mississippi and Cuban populations endangered
Facts source: Cornell University – All About Birds