WHOOPING CRANE CHICK: DAY 30
When you work with whooping crane chicks every day, you can almost see them growing. Tux, standing with Brenda, is 30 days old now (on June 1, 2000)--a whole month! He's about 2 feet tall and weighs 2.2 kilograms, slightly less than 5 pounds. He's starting to grow real feathers.
It's been so cold and rainy that none of the chicks have been able to get much exercise. Since they grow so fast, lack of exercise can cause problems. Sometimes these problems can be quite serious, especially if they involve the chicks' legs. Other problems are correctable. Crooked toes and a condition called "angel" wing are the most common growth problems. Both are fairly easy to correct. Tux has developed a few crooked toes, which are taped now, and both he and his sibling, Chessie, have angel wing. This means that the tip of their wings are growing at an incorrect angle. The piece of tape you can see in the top picture binds Tux's wing in the correct position for it to grow, correcting the problem. The tape will be left on for two days. To fix Tux's toes, a small wooden dowel is taped against the curve, straightening it, and is left on for two days.
Usually that's all it takes to correct the condition. Angel wing does not usually reoccur, but crooked toes might have to be corrected a few times before they're permanently straightened.
Dr. Olsen applies tape and thin wooden dowels to splint a chick's crooked toes. The tape is only left on for two days, since by then the chicks have grown so much the tape will be tight. Tux cries loudly when we hold him for the toe-taping, because cranes never like being held, but it doesn't hurt him at all. The tape and splint act like corrective shoes. The straightened toes force Tux to walk properly and make his toes grow straight. A bird with crooked toes can have problems walking, and might develop arthritis early in life. To have the best chance of survival, the birds we release in the wild must be perfectly healthy. So we pay close attention to the wings, feet, and legs of our fast-growing chicks.
Please check our site on June 15th for an update!
The most vulnerable part of
a growing crane chick is his legs. A crane can live in captivity with an
injured wing, but if something goes wrong with his rapidly-growing legs,
it can quickly become life-threatening. Some leg problems seem to be
genetic. Others can be improved or eliminated with proper exercise and
nutrition. Toe-problems and wing problems like angel wing seem to be
related to exercise and nutrition, though there may be a genetic
component, too. We're still learning how to manage these problems that
seem to be a result of a captive environment. At Patuxent, chicks
parent-reared by cranes have less of these problems than hand-reared
|Click here to ask questions about our chick or Patuxent's crane program.|
Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).
To check on updates after day 14, go to whooper's home.