crane Feb 16, 2012

American Journal of Zoology
January 2013, pp. 117-8

Geographical RangeNortheastern United States
HabitatDecaying Urban
Scientific NamePending
Conservation StatusNot listed by IUCN

The Crane was found building a nest in a large open field just outside of ███████ █████████████ in the autumn of last year. It began scavenging food and nesting material by poaching nearby abandoned buildings, weaving an immense spiralling rustshadowed mass of girders. After a series of emergency meetings and much argument over whether to call in the National Guard, local government decided it was more cost effective to simply leave the Crane to its machinations.

In November 2012, the Crane blocked a highway while picking through an aging industrial complex. It was evacuated and the State Police rerouted everyone onto back roads. Local resident ██ ██████ reported, "I was coming back from the ████████ about five o'clock. Out-of-towners were rubbernecking the whole way because you could see the thing over the treetops, just pulling beams out of that old concrete building. Crane's hypnotizing. Chunks of concrete falling off, beams all twisted. Eerie quiet like---it's so big you can see what it's doing but be too far away to really hear the amount of noise it makes. Anyway it's about time somebody did something about that place. Thing was ugly as sin when they put it in, and it hasn't gotten any prettier. Used to be a forest, you know." By sunset, the Crane had returned to its nest with a bundle of steel and a belly full of gasoline.

By December, it had succeeded in attracting a mate. Having no similar species to compare, zoologists can only guess at the duration of the mating rituals, incubation, and the probable number and nature of hatchlings. When together, the Cranes often stand very still, cables swinging in the breeze. On one occasion, they suddenly began "fishing"---whipping laterally and releasing their entire spools, then dragging their hooks back over the landscape. The south side of town (the "historic district") sustained heavy damage during this act of courtship. There were two fatalities and seven wounded.

Scientists continue to monitor the Cranes into the new year. See the upcoming paper by Pearl and Reynolds for more details.