And then…Saturday, four days after their release…they showed back up. Not at the release site. Nope. Back at LWR. Now, how they managed this is beyond me, ‘cause when they left here for the release site, they were in boxes in my car, and it’s a long, winding road to the site and then a long walk through the woods to the exact release spot—all in boxes for the birds.
So when my nephew Alex alerted me that they were in the field across from his house bright and early, while I was still feeding all the other LWR guests, my immediate reaction was swearing. How was this possible? As soon as all the morning “rounds” were handled, I walked up to see for myself.
Yep. “My” cranes. I walked into the field, while they ignored me and ate. Then I asked them what they were doing back. And this is where it got positively surreal.
At the sound of my voice, the sandhills’ heads popped up in unison and they started toward me like dogs. What the…?
Okay, maybe they were hungry. But they were eating! Still… “Are y’all hungry? Okay, I’ll be right back with some food. Stay right here, okay?” I started to walk away, back home for food. And then I turned around. The sandhills were hot on my heels, for all the world like puppy dogs following their master. My jaw dropped. They’ll stop in a minute; they’re not really following me.
Oh, but they were. Through the field, down the road, and into the back yard, where they hung around all morning. I put in calls to the International Crane Foundation and Operation Migration, hoping they could give me some clue as to what to do next, while taking photo after photo of the cranes. They were quite cooperative. And this being the weekend, both ICF and Operation Migration were closed…They’ll have interesting messages come Monday morning!
They’d moved to the edge of my yard, where it adjoins the hay field, and were happily digging in the muck remaining from the last rain.
Even without the drama the sandhills introduced to the week, it was one of those weeks.
Early in the week, LWR received a barred owl who’d spent three days with an individual not licensed for raptors. The owl, an adult male, had been pulled off a barbed wire fence and his left wing was chewed up from the fence. This individual gummed up the feathers with ointment, slapped a wadded, non-sterile paper towel under the wing, and proceeded to wrap it against the body as if it were a fracture—with some sort of REALLY sticky tape that pulled out wads of feathers when I pulled it off to properly treat the wound.
Luckily, the x-ray showed no fractures, although you can clearly see a huge fleck of metal still hung in his feathers from the fence. The skin was ripped off the bicep, though, and the wrist was also raw. Vets Peggy Hobby and Richie Hatcher recommended that I allow the poor owl to preen all the ointment out of his own feathers as he felt like it, rather than us adding to his stress and pain by attempting to wash it out while his wounds were still so raw.
Unfortunately the turkey vulture caught in this leg-hold trap wasn’t as lucky.
The foot was nearly severed; there was nothing to do but end the vulture’s suffering humanely.