The crane was just a chick when it was found by a ranch hand three years ago. Apparently, dogs had chased off other birds in a flock that had been in the same field. Believing the young bird had been abandoned and couldn't survive on its own the rancher took the bird home, fed it cat food and treated it like a pet. Birds imprint on humans quickly if they are exposed to them at a young age. Once a bird imprints, it can seldom be trained to survive in the wild – even with other birds. When the ranch hand became ill with cancer, he asked some friends to care for the bird. In the spring they took it to an area where large flocks of sandhill cranes gather during their migration north for the summer. But when they released the bird it wanted no part of its free-roaming cousins. The bird was taken to the Schneegas Wildlife Foundation near Silt, a wildlife rehabilitation center. The professional trainers there saw quickly that the bird couldn't be retrained. "The sandhill crane never learned to be wild," Gurzick said. The crane will be cared for at the DOW's wildlife facility until a suitable home is found.
The lesson here: Observe animals from a distance, allow nature to take its course. Just as people usually mentally warp their children, you will mentally warp a crane.
Lesson two: in a pinch, cat food, apparently, is a suitable crane food.