WHOOPING CRANE CHICK: DAY 45
Like most of the whooper chicks at Patuxent, Tux, and his sibling Chessie, are hand-reared by costumed technicians. But some whooper chicks are raised by adult whooping cranes. We call this parent-rearing, even though many of the chicks the whooper adults are raising are not their own. Sometimes the chicks hatch in the whooper parents' nest, and sometimes an older chick is "fostered" to a pair. Whoopers make wonderful parents, and in spite of the cold unseasonable weather we've been having, the parent-reared chicks are thriving. These chicks will join Tux and the other hand-reared chicks to be released in Florida.
When techs enter the pen to check on the chick, the male stands between his family and the human invaders. He tears at the ground and spreads his tail feathers in a threat display. The female stands farther away, between the male and the chick who is behind her. Both parents form a living barrier between harm and their young. Whoopers are fierce when protecting their chicks, and will attack the technicians who care for them with beaks, wings, and clawed feet. For safety, techs wear racket-ball glasses to protect their eyes and use soft corn brooms as shields against claws and striking wings. The soft end of the broom won't hurt the birds, and will keep the parents a safe distance from the techs.
Jane and Brian are giving this 3 week old parent-reared chick a health exam to make sure she's gaining weight and developing normally. Getting the chick away from the protective parents takes 3 people: 2 to hold off the parents and 1 to capture the chick. The chick is not held for long, but quickly examined then returned to the worried parents.
As of today,
Patuxent is 45 days old, is about 3 feet tall, and weighs
3.7 kg (roughly 8 pounds). His wings are growing long, and you can
see some of the white feathers peeking through. The angel wing he had is
completely corrected, and his toes are good and straight. Tux is at the
"fluffy" stage. His soft baby down, attached to the tips of his
new feathers, forms a fuzzy halo around him. Gradually, he will preen the
down off the maturing feathers and look sleek. His eyes are still blue,
but the hue is changing slowly to gold.
Please check our site on July 6th for an update!
|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.