It was a case for Stafford County C.S.I.
I was just south of the Barton County line when the sight of an over-sized wing rising into the air caused me to make a quick U-turn. The victim was a mature sandhill crane.
Shot by poachers? Doubtful. Getting within shotgun range of cranes requires far more work that most poachers are willing to spend for a bird.
Roadkill? I’ve never seen a healthy sandhill fly anywhere near low enough over a road.
I’ll never know for sure but I’m betting the bird flew into some of the high utility lines at the edge of the field of cut milo. It happens fairly often.
I’ve seen two pheasants flushed from the same field fly full-speed into power lines. Friends have seen geese, ducks and prairie chickens fly into utlity lines. I’ve read about whooping cranes dying from doing the same.
And it’s not just high wires. I’ve seen quail fatally smack into the top strand of a barbed-wire fence. It’s common enough with lesser prairie chickens that some people in Oklahoma are attaching pieces of white plastic to fences hoping the birds will avoid the top strands.
I guessed the sandhill had died a few hours earlier. Nothing had messed with the carcass but surely a nighttime coyote or daytime hawk would find the bird and turn it into a meal.
No matter how things die, there’s seldom any waste in nature.