As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Rare bird gets peg leg after losing limb in golf accident

A sandhill crane, a rare sight in the Lower Mainland, is standing up again after losing a leg in an accident at a Richmond, B.C., golf course.

Elizabeth Melnick, who runs a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation centre in Abbotsford, said the bird's leg was shattered in early March when it was struck by a stray golf ball.

'He's unusually tame for a wild bird.'—Dr. Ken MacQuisten

"The crane was brought in because he was hit by a golf ball and his lower leg was shattered, so the vet, Dr. Ken MacQuisten, tried to see if it would work possibly with surgery," she said.

"It just wasn't a go. So [MacQuisten] decided to amputate the lower leg and now he's getting a prosthesis put in."

MacQuisten said the leg was badly broken and the limb had died by the time the crane was captured.

"It took about five days to catch him and bring him into the veterinary hospital. So, we had to amputate the foot and now we've fitted him with a prosthesis so that he can balance and walk with it," MacQuisten said.

This juvenile sandhill crane is about the size of a great blue heron. (CBC)

MacQuisten fitted the bird with a temporary limb for now. He says a permanent prosthetic leg will be attached once the stump is fully healed.

According to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta, sandhill cranes typically migrate through the central prairies and winter in the southern U.S. states, and in B.C. some cranes pass through the central interior.

But a small number of sandhill cranes have been living in the Lower Mainland after a pair of captive-hatched birds were released in the area over 30 years ago. The tame birds never reproduced, but they did attract wild sandhill cranes to settle in the region.

In the 27 years Melnick has been running her shelter, she has never come across one before.
MacQuisten also said the crane was a rare subject to work with for other reasons.

"This is a very unusual patient," MacQuisten said. "He's unusual in the sense that there are very few sandhill cranes in the Lower Mainland, here, but he's unusually tame for a wild bird," MacQuisten said.

"He makes a great subject to see if we can do something to help him with the ultimate goal of sending him back out onto the golf course."

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