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Highway of the Cranes

Tucked into the middle of Nebraska is a city with a population just over 30,000 called Kearney. However, from mid February to mid April every year, the population grows by over 500,000...sandhill cranes. The Platte river, which flows through Kearney, is the perfect resting spot for these cranes, who have been migrating through this area for millions of years. Fossils of cranes have been found here that date as far back 190 million years. These creatures of the sky travel over 10,000 miles from Mexico to Siberia and back every year.  Visitors flock to Kearney every year to watch the gathering. 

Due to the great number of birds, some injuries do occur and hunting is also allowed in some areas, although not in Nebraska.  Because of this, several groups have taken it upon themselves to help some of these injured birds and help rehabilitate them.  One of the largest wild animal hospitals in the nation, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC), which is located in Roseville, Minn, treats more than 8,500 wild animals every year.  The WRC has its own radiology lab and surgery suite, along with more than a dozen wards and various outdoor caging areas.  The radiology lab is used to help identify everything from foreign objects to fractures.  One of the more interesting cases involved a Sandhill Crane that had been shot.  ( Read more about this case at http://www.wrcmn.org/CS_GSCrane.php )

Although some of these birds may never fully be healed and therefore not be able to survive in the wild, groups like the WRC try their best to find good homes for the cranes to live the rest of their lives. 

For an additional photo gallery please visit http://www.pbase.com/gymell/rowe_sanctuary

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