The Battle Of The Backyard Cranes
The whooping crane is one of the great success stories of conservation. Back in 1970, there were a grand total of 57 cranes on the planet. Today, there are over 500, all thanks to Operation Migration. The awesome program uses airplanes to teach whooping cranes to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida. Throughout the process, the people involved wear giant bird costumes. Why? They don’t want the birds to get used to humans, as people have a bad habit of killing these amazing creatures.
And that’s why Clarice Gibbs’s backyard is such a problem.
The elderly Florida woman’s property is full of birdfeeders. One particular flock of cranes discovered this smorgasbord and made themselves at home in Mrs. Gibbs’s backyard. Worried about the birds’ safety, the people at Operation Migration asked Mrs. Gibbs if they could remove her feeders. Their whole mission revolved around keeping the cranes away from humans. Clarice said no but not because she was some sort of bird nut. It’s a lot more complicated than that.
Clarice’s husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Thanks to this awful disease, he was cut off from the world, a shell of his former self, unless he was sitting in his backyard, looking at birds. Clarice’s husband especially enjoyed watching the whooping cranes, and whenever these majestic animals landed in the yard, his mind would come back, excited and happy, if only for a moment.
So is one couple’s happiness worth the safety of an entire species? Taking it a step further, if you say “okay” to one person’s particular set of circumstances, when do you stop? Everyone has their own problems, and if everyone puts their own needs first, where does that leave the animals?
Or as RadioLab host Robert Krulwich put it, “If you want to give the other creatures on Earth a little more room to be wild and independent, then what do we have to give up?”
I don't know about you, but I say leave the old woman and her husband alone to enjoy the birds for as long as they can. Sometimes the very act of making someone else smile is reward enough, especially if their time here is limited.
Coffee out on the patio today Rain is due back tomorrow, so let's enjoy it.