A greater sandhill crane that had been raised by a ranch employee in western Colorado is finally moving to a permanent home.
The crane, affectionately named "Baby" by caretakers (no, that's no Baby in the photo, just an anonymous crane), is being given to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo by the DOW. The crane was a chick when it was found by a ranch hand in 2005 near Nucla. It is rare for sandhill cranes to nest and hatch young in Colorado.
Believing that 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. When the ranch hand became ill with cancer late in 2006 he asked some friends to care for the bird.
Late last winter they took it to the area near Nucla where large flocks of sandhill cranes gather during their migration north for the summer. 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; so they called the DOW, which placed the bird in its wildlife rehabilitation facility near Del Norte and began searching for a permanent home.
Baby will live in the Omaha Zoo's Crane Meadows with about 75 other cranes. Most of the cranes are unable to fly because of injuries.
Crane Meadows is part of the zoo's 400-acre Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, a drive-through preserve 25 miles west of Omaha.
Baby's hand-over is scheduled Monday.
To prevent other such dramas, the DOW reminds us all not to touch or pick up wildlife.