ODESSA (FOX 13) - A baby sandhill crane is alive thanks to a group of Wesley Chapel residents who came to its rescue.
They say cars are hitting and killing cranes all the time and they're concerned it's a sign of a dwindling respect for wildlife.
Volunteers with Owl’s Nest Sanctuary are nursing the little crane back to health.
They say their phones have been ringing off the hook with calls from residents calling to report injured cranes on the side of the road.
While many cases don't end well, one baby crane - also referred to as a colt - is expected to survive thanks to residents who didn't give up on him.
The fuzzy, chirpy colt is resting, but he has a long way to go before being released back into nature.
"He's in panic, in really good condition but very panicked," explained Kris Porter of Owl’s Nest Sanctuary in Odessa.
And who can blame him? He lost his mom and dad and was dodging cars, fighting to stay alive. But now, he’s in good hands.
"Everybody knows what they're supposed to be in life and honestly I was always supposed to be working with animals," Porter said.
Kris Porter used to work as a zoologist for Busch Gardens. Now she runs the Odessa-based nonprofit that works closely with state authorities to rehabilitate animals that just need a little tender care.
Residents of Wesley Chapel know Porter well. They reached out to her when they were trying to save the colt whose parents had been struck by a car and killed.
"He does have swelling in that right foot," Porter said.
Dozens of community members took to Facebook to report the injured bird. Porter and her team of volunteers found the orphan crane and will be taking care of it until it can go back into the wild.
Porter says these situations are far too common lately and hopes drivers are more careful when they pass by these friendly birds.
She says it's unrealistic to expect them to move when a car is approaching.
"They're not going to. They're prairie open land animals. They don't have a concept of cars, roads, their mindset is just to keep eating; eating and walking," Porter said.
She says the colt will be paired up with a buddy to learn survival skills that his parents were supposed to teach him. That process can take up to nine months.