Romeo and Juliet, with wings

Juliet, and African Grey Crowned Crane rests in her coop Wednesday morning after she was found three miles from her home. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Juliet, and African Grey Crowned Crane rests in her coop Wednesday morning after she was found three miles from her home.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

A distraught Grey African Crowned Crane was returned to her Benton Court roost Wednesday morning following a recent escape.

The bird, named Juliet, apparently flew the coop in search of her late mate Romeo, who recently died of pneumonia.

The pair were inseparable, said owner Maria Kieffer-Wiese, who lives a few miles east of Oak Harbor on Benton Court.

"It was just so endearing how they danced around each other and preened each other," so said of the cranes, adding that the birds are known to form a life-long bond with their mate.

Dr. Erica Syring of Best Friend's Veterinary Center in Oak Harbor spotted Juliet in her driveway Wednesday morning and recognized the bird as one of the clinic's clients.

Syring called her father, Dr. Eric Anderson, also of Best Friend's Veterinary Center, to help capture the exotic bird.

Nurse Pia Carruth, Anderson and Syring captured the crane with a net gun and returned the Juliet to Kieffer-Wiese.

Net guns are a common tool to capture wild animals, Syring said.

"Ms. Kieffer-Wiese really does a good job caring for her animals." she said. "She has a very kind heart."

"I've spent close to $2,000 in vet bills on him," Keifer-Wiese said of the late Romeo's care. She purchased the pair from a breeder in Spokane six months ago for $1,500.

A new boyfriend is on the way for the lonely crane, said Kieffer-Wiese, adding that Juliet's new mate is scheduled to arrive in several weeks.

According to the International Crane Foundation, Grey Crowned Cranes hail from Africa and are the national bird of Uganda. They weigh an average of eight pounds and stand about three feet tall.

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