21 January 2014

Legendary Old Sandhill Crane

The Gridley (Butte county) Herald is responsible for the following.

Thomas Chaplin, of Virginia City, Nevada, passed through this city last Friday, with a team and light wagon, on his way home from a visit to friends in Sonoma county. When crossing Butte creek, ten miles west of this place, he shot and killed a sandhill crane. The bird acted as if lost, and being alone, attracted Mr. Chaplin's attention with the above result. After the bird was killed Mr. Chaplin decided to save the feathers. While thus engaged he saw that the bird was blind, a thick white film covering the pupils of both eyes, and on the neck he discovered a crease encircling it, which looked as if at some time or other the heard had been almost cut off with a knife. Upon close investigation, however, the gentleman found that this crease was caused by a wire around the neck and sunk deep into the flesh — so much so that it could not be seen until the flesh had been cut away. Suspended from the wire, which passed through a little hole near the rim of the coin, was what had evidently at one time been a silver quarter-dollar. Both sides of the piece were smooth and bore the following inscriptions: "Captured at Fort Du Quesne, May 25, 1783." "Released at Fort Dearborn, November 17, 1846." The coin was of a dull bright color, but having been protected by the soft down, bore no evidence of having experienced rough weather. Cranes are out of their latitude in this climate at this season of the year, and it is highly probable the bird was unable by reason of the infirmities of old age to travel any longer. It is more than likely the coin was an English piece, as this government had not issued metal money at that early day.

June 20, 1881. An old bird. Sacramento Daily Record-Union 13(102): 5.