ROYAL OAK, Mich. – An injured sandhill crane that was found in Commerce Township has found sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo.
The zoo says the crane suffered from a serious injury to his beak. A piece of rubber band was wrapped tightly around his lower beak, which had constricted and cut off blood supply to the area and caused the beak to crack and break off. This is one of the harmful effects of human-created pollution in these birds’ natural habitat. Unable to eat on his own, it was determined the sandhill crane would die if returned to the wild.
Detroit Zoo staff plan to develop a prosthetic beak for the bird, but in the meantime, the crane has learned a new way to eat, something zoo officials say would not be possible if released back into the wild. Zoo veterinarians also discovered buckshot in one of the bird’s legs.
“From his rescue in September, he has made such a transformation. He represents an iconic, native Michigan species and we can’t wait to see him join the two other sandhill cranes here at the Zoo,” said DZS Associate Curator of Birds Bonnie Van Dam.
One of the previously rescued cranes was found as a chick in 2002 with a wing problem. Rescuers determined he would not survive in the wild. The second crane was rescued in 2015 with a badly injured wing. His injuries required amputation of the wing tip, leaving him unable to fly.
Sandhill cranes were once at risk of extinction due to hunting, habitat loss and low reproduction rates.