Crane Loses Mate, But Owner Identified|
He Hopes Bird Comes Home for the Holidays
By Lisa M. Krieger
San Jose Mercury News, November 30, 2006, pages 1A & 17A
Catching a crane is easier said than done, bird experts say. Cranes can be aggressive and unless tame, will resist capture.
Meanwhile, the surviving crane's great adventure continues. On Wednesday, it continued to explore fields, orchards and abandoned pastures in a rustic corner of the town, keeping company with Steller's jays and other suburban species.
Its smaller mate, found dead in a neighbor's yard, has been carried home. Because it suffered no injuries, Ng thinks it may have succumbed from exposure or lack of proper food.
As bird enthusiasts flocked to Los Altos Hills for a glimpse of Uganda's national bird, Sandra Humphries kept close vigil.
"Cars keep stopping. I don't mind if they come to enjoy it, as long as they leave it be," she said.
Sighed friend Colette Cranston: "The looky-loos have arrived."
In the wild, gray crowned cranes survive in cool, damp weather only if they are acclimated in outdoor aviaries, and as long as there is proper food, said Jessie Gross, who works in a San Diego store called Bird Crazy, which buys and sells exotic birds. Wednesday's temperatures in Kampala, Uganda, ranged from a balmy 65 to 80.
Wild cranes have adapted to human settlements, dining on millet and maize from African fields. As birds go, they're easily domesticated. They're worth about $1,800 each.
But if adults can fly, it's tough to coerce them back into cages, Gross said.
While these birds were roosting near the Los Altos Hills Town Hall, a bird catcher dressed in goggles and gloves reportedly tried to catch them by net, to no avail.
"That's a tough one," Gross said. "You need to be careful. They can be very aggressive."
The majestic long-legged crane stands three feet tall, with a six-foot wingspan. Its beak is long and sharp. It has acute vision and startles easily.
"They bite, and have claws," he said. "Because of their size, catching is not an option for most people. A net might work, if it is big enough. But if they can fly, it is going to be extra hard."
Ng has propped open the door to the new aviary and left out food in hopes that the bird will get homesick and return for the holidays.
"The cage is empty. I hope it comes back," he said. "I'd love to have it back."
Contact Lisa M. Krieger at email@example.com
Earlier Story: Crowned Crane Graces Los Altos Hills
Later Story: Exotic Gray Crane Continues Life at Large