The Most Extraordinary Story!!

8:43 AM

Yesterday morning (10:00ish) my husband was walking outside of the place where he works, when he heard the calls of a pair of Sandhill Cranes. He turned to watch these majestic birds fly over. What he saw instead was a hawk diving down and attacking one the cranes!! The crane plummeted from the sky in a straight drop to the ground from about the thirty feet. Chris said he expected to hear a gunshot report because of how straight and hard the bird fell. Feathers continued to rain down long after the crane had fallen. He sprinted over to the back of the parking lot that borders an old pasture to see what had happened.


As Chris got closer to the back of the lot, he saw the hawk swoop down as if to strike again. It was just as a fly-by. The hawk did not attack a second time. The crane was just lying there, clearly dazed. His mate was walking around him, very agitated. Chris said as he got closer to the bird he could see evidence of the attack in wounds and blood all around the crane's head, but the bird was alive.

Several people had now noticed the commotion and were watching the bird. They decided it would be best to call someone to come take a look at the bird, but that turned out to be quite a fiasco that lasted well into the afternoon. Dozens of calls were made, including to the Wildlife Officers, but the officers were out of town. They suggested calling one of the vets in the area on their out-of-town message. So Chris called the vet. The vet's office said "If you can bring us the bird, we'll see what we can do." Bring you the bird?!! These birds are 4 to 5 feet tall!!

As the afternoon progressed, the crane started coming out of the daze he was in. He eventually stood up, and that's when Chris and the others could tell that the bird's leg had been hurt in the fall. He did not/could not put weight on the leg. Someone had brought binoculars, and they were able to look the crane over for other wounds. The leg showed no outward wounds and most of the other wounds were around the bird's head.

After an afternoon of frustrating calls, the county finally sent an officer out to take a look at the situation. The officer had to scale a couple of fences to get closer to the cranes. As he closed in on the bird, it started to hop around and finally managed to flutter over the fence away from the man. The officer tried a get close a second time, and again, the crane flew just out of reach. The man retreated at this point, telling Chris that if the bird were able to fly out of harm's way it would be best to leave the crane alone. He was concerned that if he took the bird in that the county might destroy the bird rather than rehabilitate it and that its mate would be widowed for life. 

At the end of the day, Chris check on the pair one last time. They had not strayed far from where the crane had originally fell. He said that they were both alert and knew when he approached but did not become agitated. When he went into work this morning, the cranes were gone. All that was left of the incident were a few feathers lying about in the pasture. 

For the birders who might read this post - any idea why a hawk would attack a bird 5 times its size?? Territory, a nest nearby, food? Unfortunately, no one took enough notice of the hawk to be able to identify what kind it was, and although the hawk was large, it was still hawk-sized. We would appreciate any info anyone could share!  

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3 Creative Thought(s)

  1. That is such a sad story and yet it is part of nature. I have never heard of an incident like this but how sad that no one could come and help.
    I hope the crane flew away with its mate.

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  2. ...keep us posted if you hear anything more about the poor crane. Hate to hear these stories, but the hawk has to eat too, so I understand. I hope the crane survives.

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  3. Hope the crane recovered. Not too many people have a story like that to tell.

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