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Any injured wild bird in need of care should be taken to a licensed wildlife 
rehabilitator for care.  Many are unaware of this profession and their work.  
This is not surprising since wildlife rehabilitation is a fairly new professional 
field, less than 50 years old. Avian rehabilitators must be licensed by the 
USFW as well as their state wildlife department, in the case of Missouri this is 
the Department of Conservation.  There are two national wildlife organizations 
that provide yearly conferences for continuing education as well as regional 
conferences, journals, networking etc.  

This education is precisely aimed to provide essential knowledge of care and 
treatment of wildlife in concert with veterinarians and other wildlife  
professionals, that was unavailable to ad hoc rehabilitators – some very good, 
others not.  With no training or education many wild animals are not given 
proper care and indeed end up too used to people and released with limited 
survival chances.  This is not the case with qualified rehabilitators.  

In the 24 years I have been working with birds, we have seen cases where 
birds are brought to us after being raised by individuals who discover the bird 
will not fly away.  Sometimes we can “wild up” these birds but of ten we have 
to either place them in zoos that have a native exhibit or in the end euthanize 
the bird.  This is one of the hardest jobs for a rehabber, but we recognize if a 
bird cannot survive on its own in the wild, it cannot be released. (this is also 
part of our legal requirements).

Very few if any scientific studies have been made on the survival rate of 
rehabilitated birds.  I know of one on the release of oiled pelagic birds, but the 
results of that study are still debated. Larger wildlife centers have done 
studies on larger mammals.  Efforts have been made to study smaller birds, but 
technology and finances are a big problem. The populations we work with are 
too small for banding results.  I do have anecdotal results from some of the 
birds we have released.  Because most of the birds we treat come from a 
suburban environment, they are returned to that environment.  This is often 
the backyards of volunteers or members.  One such bird, a blue jay, added a 
phone call to his repertoire.  She was observed over two breeding seasons, 
and was seen in the company of another jay who also had that call.

As to the injured crane, I certainly agree with previous posts, that if the bird 
is surviving and showing no sign of infection, the best advice is probably to 
leave it alone.   For more information you might consider talking with those 
that work with the whooping cranes.  Their experience with cranes would be 
considerable.

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