After landing in Taiwan last year, a lost Siberian Crane has won the country over, gaining hundreds of friends and fans, starting a birdwatching craze, and even convincing farmers to go organic, Agence France-Presse reports.
Most eastern Siberian Cranes migrate from the northeast coast of Asia down to China’s Poyang Lake. But in December of 2014, one wayward male ended up in the wetlands of New Taipei, Taiwan instead. He quickly captured the country’s heart, and after hundreds of people began flocking to see him, was given a local government security detail, a Facebook page, and his own animal cam.
The crane has gotten out a bit—in December 2015, he took a trip to a nearby train station, but was quickly returned to his wetland home. But mostly, he sticks around a particular patch of wetland, helping out rice farmers.
“When I work, the crane follows me around,” farmer Huang Cheng-chun told AFP. “It’s like a friend to me.”
The crane pulls its weight by eating apple snails, a farm pest that farmers used to take care of with chemicals, AFP reports. Now that the crane is around, his human neighbors have gone organic, and have rebranded their rice, which, thanks to its celebrity association, sells out months in advance.
The expat crane could leave at any time, rejoining the rest of his flock on their normal spring migration path back north. But for now, he has all the snails and attention he could ever want, and his friends hope he will stick around. “It spreads its wings when it sees me, and sometimes pecks my hat as if it wants to play,” Cheng-chun told the Japan Times last month. “He is like my son.”
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