Craning her neck across the lawn and parking lot, Beth Booher crowed “Keevvinnn” repeatedly into the warm, early spring morning air. The sprawling back lawn of Scott & White Clinic in Killeen, however, answered in swift silence.
Kevin, a sandhill crane that appeared at the clinic about six months ago, got stage fright.
“He comes every day. Usually he’s on our property, or otherwise he’ll sometimes be down there,” Booher said, circling the perimeter of the building in brisk strides while pointing toward the wooded area behind the clinic.
The director of the clinic, Booher and her co-workers noticed the lonely crane wandering around the back lot, looking hungry, at the beginning of fall.
Not knowing if it was a boy or a girl, Booher christened the bird “Kevin” after the children’s movie “Up,” seeing as the movie-bird was cranelike and ended up being mistaken for a boy.
“(Kevin) should be in Nebraska, and he’s missing a mate, so he’s very lonely,” Booher said.
Sandhill cranes commonly migrate south for the winter, and then make their way up to Nebraska’s sandhills on the American Plains.
While possibly on his lonely sabbatical, the ladies at the clinic have taken turns feeding him bread every day, Booher said, and patients pull their cars over to look at him.
The bird is 4 feet tall with a regal-looking, 6-foot wingspan.
Red-eye patches and white cheek spots are visible against a long, black, tapering bill that he uses to pick out bugs peeking out of the yard.
Light gray feathers form a turtleneck-looking sweater around his body and long, slightly curving neck.
“If you walk up to him, he’ll go ‘click, click, click, click’ — he makes that noise — and then he’ll go jeepers creepers on you,” Pam Vidak said while stretching her arms out and imitating wings flapping while smiling.
Vidak is an X-ray supervisor and one of the women who feeds Kevin daily.
“He doesn’t like tortillas,” she said, explaining he had a hard time chewing them and sometimes flies down to the stream in front of Wal-Mart.
Yvette Ochoa, who works as a patient service specialist at the clinic, said the bird must be a man because a female would have asked for directions and found her family already.
Kevin’s caretakers said they were going to look into seeing if a zoo could take him if he continues to stay. He already has weathered the long and icy winter, they said.
“He’s become our mascot at the clinic, though,” Booher said. “We just don’t want something to happen to him.”