The True Story of a Rare Sandhill Crane Who Joined Our Family
by Dayton O. Hyde
I really loved this author's book about coyotes. The crane one, well, it just wasn't as captivating. Bird behavior and biology has never fascinated me quite as much as that of mammals, and so when the book felt lacking in detailed descriptions, my attention started to flag. Sandy is about a rancher's devoted efforts to save the greater sandhill crane, a relatively rare subspecies that at the time he began his studies was not getting much attention or protection. Parts of the book describe his work- rescuing eggs from floods, raising the chicks, trying to discover the whereabouts of his birds when they migrated alone and failed to return (one trio ended up in a zoo, but recognized him when he visited!). Other sections go into lengthy discourses on the importance of wetlands conservation, land management, and wildlife protection- mostly on behalf of the cranes, but also in consideration of other waterfowl and animals. There's several chapters full of reminiscings of the ranch he worked on as a young man, and while the author talks a bit about how he first became enchanted with sandhill cranes back then, it felt like a digression to me and at one point I nearly put the book down, because I wanted it to get back to the cranes! Also, in many cases he described the end result of some studies, but not how he reached them- which details I would have found interesting, but maybe that's just me. Hyde was the first to successfully raise sandhill chicks (with chickens as foster mothers!) and release them into the wild, instead of just ending up in zoos. He also carried out extensive surveys of their population numbers, and after years of work was considering something of an expert on cranes, giving advice on their management to some wildlife conservation organizations. These large, ancient birds (fossil records date back at least two and a half million years) are impressively elegant, I just wished they had graced the pages more fully.
I read this book as part of the 2009 TBR Challenge, hosted by MizB.
Rating: 2/5 ....... 214 pages, 1968