I recently wrote my old friend George Archibald about this sighting.
Here was his response from China, where he is currently in the field:
Who knows if it [the Eurasian Crane] escaped or came down from Russia with Sandhills as sometimes happens in Nebraska.
Love on Mothers Day from China where I am near 3800 Sibes [Siberian cranes, another very rare species of white crane. Would that our whooping canres could show such a robust recovery! DV]
[As to the white iris in the bird]: White is unusual but can happen.
A white iris is merely an unusual form, not an indication of a immature bird. Not sure if it is found more frequently in the wild or in captive, inbred situations.
Brown feathering on the head and neck is a plumage indication of an immature crane. I don't see that in this bird. As to the "apparent" lack of a red crown...the red skin and its obviousness is controlled by the bird. A freaked out bird (lost, escaped, lacking its compatriots) would not be signaling, either for sexuality or aggression, two compelling reasons to flash that crown. Flight feathers in the wings are the same for both juveniles and adults (National Geo Guide to Birds, 5th Edition). Cranes also paint their feathers sometimes, altho generally when nesting.
Was this bird seen with lesser sandhills? Were there other sandhills in the area? Pretty unlikely that this bird came over here on its own, or ditched the other members of its "flock"...have folks checked local zoos and avicultural collections?
I am skeptical that this is a wild and lost bird.
--- In CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com, "newtster24" <gbstacey70@...> wrote:
> Dear CalBirds: I am viewing the common crane now at 0815 hrs on Sunday, May 8th. The bird is by itself in the same pasture located past the last house near the end of Lakeview Drive that it has used since it was first seen. The bird is about 100 yards past (west) of the last house and about 75 yards from the road. This is a really cool bird that I hope turns out to be countable.
> Here are more detailed directions to the bird:
> Proceed north on Highway 101 to Crescent City. Drive through town until you reach Northcrest Drive and turn left. There is a Home Depot store on the left at this intersection. Proceed north on Northcrest Drive for about 3.4 miles until you reach Lakeview Drive and then turn left. Note: Northcrest Drive becomes Lake Earl Drive after about 2 miles. Drive west on Lakeview Drive for about 0.6 mile where you should see the bird to the north of the road.
> Good luck seeing this bird and good bitding.
> Gary Stacey
> Redding, CA