A Helping Hand

At ICF’s Baraboo headquarters, we have all 15 species of crane, many for purposes of breeding and maintaining the valuable genetic lines of several endangered species. That responsibility, however, precludes us from taking in any injured cranes, either from public reports or as a result of our research. Wild birds have the potential of bringing with them any number of diseases that could wreak havoc with our captive population; that is a risk we cannot take.

In the course of researching Sandhill Cranes for 20 years in central Wisconsin, we’ve had amazing luck in that we have not often encountered an illness or injury with the birds that we could not deal with in the field. However, every now and again it does happen. Enter wonderful people like Pat Fisher, a licensed avian rehabilitator in New London, Wisconsin. Professionals like Pat have both the expertise and the facilities to deal with various injuries, but also syndromes like capture myopathy, a muscle disease of unknown origin that is uncommon, but curable in the hands of a caring expert.

Pat has created a narrative of one such story on “Ms. Earl,” a wild Sandhill Crane from our long-term study area in Wisconsin. Ms. Earl developed capture myopathy during the course of a capture attempt to replace bands and fit her with a new type of transmitter (right, Ms. Earl is pictured in a sling to help support her weight during recovery).

Here is the inside story of her rehabilitation, recovery, and well…read on for the rest of the story!