Jason Sodergren and retired veterinarian Ralph Broshes capture and attend to crane shot with an arrow, July 9, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided by Nina Faust)

Jason Sodergren and retired veterinarian Ralph Broshes capture and attend to crane shot with an arrow, July 9, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided by Nina Faust)

What happened to the ‘Arrowshot Crane’?

In many animal rescues, the outcome is fairly quickly known, but the final fate of the “Arrowshot Crane” rescued in Homer in July of 2023 was not known until recently.

But first a short summary. The injured crane was first reported on July 1, 2023. A failed rescue attempt where the crane eluded rescuers, then the July 4th holiday weekend, a neighborhood building fire, and bad weather delayed the rescue until July 10.

That day, a rescue team — Jason Sodergren who has a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit to capture injured birds; retired veterinarian Ralph Broshes; and Kachemak Crane Watch co-founder Nina Faust — teamed up with many of the human neighbors to help corral the injured crane.

The team knew that despite the arrow through its breast and wing the crane was able to race through alder thickets, dense grass and pushkie vegetation without getting entangled. The neighbors strategically placed themselves to keep the male from running into a nearby ravine again, thereby forcing him to thread the narrow trails through the alders where neighbors were waiting in the next yard.

Jason was able run full speed in his knee-high Xtratufs carrying his capture net. A few quickly shouted directions, “He went that way!” kept Jason on the right path until he caught up and netted the crane.

The crane was very lucky. The arrow had not seriously damaged the breast muscle and miraculously passed through feathers in a way that pinned the wing to the crane’s body without damaging the wing except for a few ruffled feathers. The arrow was quickly cut and removed. Dr. Broshes cleaned the wound and administered antibiotic ointment on the entrance and exit wound and gave the crane a shot of antibiotics to take care of any internal infection in the breast wound.

Quickly released, the male ran, flapping his wings, to a tiny creek for a drink, and then quickly returned to his mate and two colts.

Within a day or so after his release, the male fended off an eagle attack on his family. He was able to everything he normally would do, except fly. For the next month he was observed preening, dancing, feeding his colts and defending the family. The first week of August, he was reported gliding short distances with his colts and mate. By Aug. 13, he was flying around the neighborhood with the whole family. Finally, in mid-September, the whole family left for California’s Sacramento Valley.

Sandhill cranes are resilient and often overcome serious injuries on their own. This male crane overcame major odds against his survival. We cannot save every injured crane, and sometimes whether we intervene or not is a judgment call, depending on what the injury is, how severe it is, and whether the crane can still fly off on its own. Another factor is whether the injury was human caused. This was a clear-cut human caused case so we did our best to rescue this injured crane. With good planning, just the right conditions, and enough helpful neighbors, the rescue was an amazing success.

Sunday, April 21, just a day ahead of Earth Day, the male and his mate flew into one of their human neighbor’s yard and triumphantly announced their return for another nesting season!

To see this story in photos and video go to the Arrowshot Crane Playlist at:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6jFcdH_im3pK0ULc0jVlgvWwwanl1p-w.

Nina Faust is co-founder of Kachemak Crane Watch.

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