Lessons Learned from a Crane

BevGuest Author Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR Pilot and former OM Field Supervisor

Every day at the pen is school for me. I learn something new every time I observe and interact with the chicks and adults that are out in the marsh. This year, the greatest teacher I have is 8-14. She is a wonder and a role model that I pay close attention to. In fact, I am so in awe of her, I wish the pen area was drier so I could sit at her feet like a disciple.

I have been privileged to have many great role models in my life from my mother, to Rachel Carson and Amelia Earhart to name but a few. Number 8-14 ranks right up there with the greatest of ladies. She has a love for life that equals none. She is independent, pays close attention to the adults and their behavior, entertains herself for hours on end and most importantly dances as if no one is watching.

She walks with intent but never in haste. She takes time to observe the world around her, looking up when other birds fly over, or glances toward the Pied billed grebe as it swims by in the pond. She glides through the mud with very little effort, never fighting it.  She is selective of whom she spends her time with, choosing to hang out with her big brother (4-12 is from the same parents) than with the other “kids”. She stays close to home, preferring to forage in the pen, but will join in flying circuits around the marsh with the rest of her cohort.

The aspect of her personality, er, crane-ality I admire the most is how she dances. In fact Hillary, one of the Disney keepers that have been helping us, dubbed 8-14 “Tiny Dancer.” This bird is always dancing. She dances to greet the day and she dances to say good night. She dances when she finds a feather and she dances in front of her brother. She dances when she is in the pen and she dances when she is out of the pen. She dances alone and she dances with others. She’ll dance with a stick or an oyster shell as a prop and she’ll dance in front of the costume. She is one of the most joyful birds I have ever been around. She will jump high and pirouette, flapping her huge wings and kicking her long legs. She bows her head, picks up a feather, stick or shell and tosses it high in the air, jumping up flapping and kicking and pouncing on the object as soon as she lands. She is as uninhibited as anyone could ever be. She doesn’t dance any less when other birds are present, or try to hide her exuberance when the costume is in the pen.  She truly dances, all the time, as if no one is watching. And that to me, is the very best lesson she could teach me.

Share Button


  1. birdlady9 March 6, 2015 5:41 pm

    What a privilege, indeed, to spend time with her and her cohort. Thank you, Bev, for the beautiful post.

  2. Kate Crook February 20, 2015 10:53 am

    A happy dance! What a great way to start our day!!!!!

  3. Bob Deyle February 19, 2015 9:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, especially your descriptions of the dancing young crane. The following from Lance Wubbels’s “Dance While You Can,” seems apropos:

    “I will not stand to the side and allow the music in my heart to fade away and die. I will dance to my own life song.”

  4. Dmcallister February 19, 2015 6:18 pm

    Thank you so much for the story. She is a funny girl! The video is awesome!

  5. Jane Schley February 19, 2015 5:13 pm

    Dear Bev,
    Thank you for sharing the joy with us.
    You write beautifully and bring that lovely, dancing crane up close and personal. You are a great speaker and writer. As I mentioned in our last visit, your stories would make a wonderful book (s). Your writing is so wonderful and fluid. It could be a great fundraiser for O.M. too ! Your audience is all of us.
    Bless you for ALL of your hard work on so many fronts.
    And THANK YOU for sharing the dance.

    Jane Schley

  6. Margie Tomlinson February 19, 2015 3:50 pm

    What an absolutely delightful video & story! Thank you so much for bringing it to us, Bev! Truly a report to warm our hearts in this very long & cold winter. To all there in WI: Do hope you can get a break soon. Feel guilty having Spring weather here in OR. Wish I could ship it to ya, dontcha know.

  7. Bobbie February 19, 2015 1:26 pm

    Couldn’t help myself. Donated to Give A Whoop for that Tiny Dancer. What a beautiful dancer she is. Thank you Bev for sharing that video.

    • PattiLat February 20, 2015 4:35 pm

      I’m doing the same, Bobbie. Great story & marvelous video. I just must show appreciation! Thanks Bev and to all.

  8. Bonnie February 19, 2015 12:39 pm

    Beautiful! You brought tears to my eyes!
    Thank You!

  9. Mindy February 19, 2015 11:16 am

    Indeed, this is a lesson we all should learn……to be happy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Happiness is a choice every day. Thank you 8-14 for reminding us humans! God’s creatures are such wonderful teachers, if we just take time to watch and “hear” what they are saying. Great post Bev, thank you so much for sharing what we cannot see ~ action at the pen and the unique personalities of the birds! I needed this glimpse…..

  10. Mollie Cook February 19, 2015 10:52 am

    Bev………what a WONDERFUL story & video. You have blessed my day & given a much needed Crane Chick Fix. Your passion for these cranes is inspiring & so touching. Thank you for sharing with us.

  11. Sue Merchant February 19, 2015 10:43 am

    Beautiful. Thank you, Bev.

  12. Ella February 19, 2015 9:38 am

    Thank you SO much for writing g this beautiful story for us, Bev. I needed something like this to read just now, and I will read it over and over. It touched me more than you could know. I enjoy all the updates and pictures from all the amazing OM friends….but this one made me feel happy and smile….hope to see you at the Whooping Crane Festival up here in WI in the fall….if not before. Sending hugs and love from freezing WI. OK, off I go to read this story again!

    • maxgreenwing February 19, 2015 3:34 pm

      So true. She is quite a “Twinkle Toes” !Easy to. Watch over and ove.rBev can put. Us right at the pen.

  13. JoBel February 19, 2015 9:19 am

    I want to be that happy when I grow up! Thanks Bev for a wonderful post and video!

  14. Anderson February 19, 2015 8:48 am

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. She has made my day and smile a bit broader. Wishing her a long and happy dance.


  15. marje lloyd February 19, 2015 8:44 am

    wonderful, my face hurts from smiling at this, thanks bev.

  16. maxgreenwing February 19, 2015 7:24 am

    Keep dancing , you graceful beauty! May you dance for 30 years. Thank you Bev.

  17. Kay February 19, 2015 6:20 am

    Pure joy!

    Thank you, Bev and #8-14. for starting my day with the happiest of smiles.

  18. Nina Lewis February 19, 2015 5:27 am

    Tiny Dancer has made my day! I love seeing her and thank you for bringing her to us and her exuberance in such wonderful detail.

  19. Patti February 19, 2015 5:10 am

    What an amazing girl she is… “I Hope You Dance” by Leanne Womack, comes to mind… Number 8-14 must have heard this song, and good for her. A happy and unique gal she is! Have a long and happy, healthy life dear Girl <3