THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 17
One of the first WCEP
chicks of the season gets acquainted with his puppet parent as Barb
teaches the day-old chick how to eat.
Jared uses the puppet
head to lead three young chicks to the training area where Dan waits in
the wingless training vehicle. This early training gets them used to the
site and sound of the machine, and also encourages social interactions
between the chicks. The chicks are different ages, but the oldest is less
than 3 weeks old.
Dan uses the puppet
head to drop some mealworms on the ground as a treat for the young chick.
The chick has been exposed to the noise of the ultra-light while it was
still in the egg, and already shows little fear around the noisy machine.
After training, the chicks are walked to a small pond, both as a reward, and as an opportunity to get acquainted with a natural wetland environment. Dan encourages them to follow him into the water while the puppet continues to encourage them to probe for crane snacks, just as they would in the wild.
Chick Season 2002 Begins!
Chick season has started at Patuxent, and we already have 6 healthy chicks. It's hard to imagine these little chicks winging their way over America, but when they grow up they'll be part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) project -- the second group of birds that will be trained to fly behind an ultra-light aircraft. These little guys will be part of the second migratory flock, and we have high hopes that they'll be as successful as the first group of release birds.
The 7 original whoopers who, last year, successfully followed an ultra-light aircraft from Wisconsin to Florida, spent the winter in Florida. Unfortunately, 2 of the 7 succumbed to bobcat predation, but the other 5 did very well. On April 10th, they left Florida on their own for the return trip. Four of the five arrived in Wisconsin on April 19th, setting down about half a mile from their original departure site. The 5th bird had separated from the group some days before and followed her own separate flight path, which paralleled the other birds' flight pattern. The 5th bird also arrived in Wisconsin, but opted to settle in south-central Wisconsin away from the other 4. During the trip, all 5 whoopers wisely chose remote, open habitat, away from humans and predators. The journey north, which only took sub-adult cranes 9 days, contrasted with the human-led journey south, which had taken 50 days to accomplish with the then much-younger birds. The successful return of this first group of whoopers bodes well for future ultra-light migrations, as we attempt to create a flock of birds who will, we hope, eventually survive, reproduce, and travel back and forth with their own young over the route we've taught them.
You can read all about the whoopers' progress over the winter and on their migration back to Wisconsin at Operation Migration's Field Journal and at the WCEP updates. You can see a map of the migratory route that the birds took at this site. Other information and updates about the migratory birds can be found at WCEP's site.
News of the successful migration was very inspiring here at Patuxent. But now we have to focus on raising the next generation of cranes, both for the migratory project, and for the non-migratory flock of birds in Florida. We are hoping to produce 18 chicks for the WCEP project, and 6-8 for release in the non-migratory flock in Florida. However, the whooper pairs are still laying so it's too early to predict how many chicks we'll eventually have.
These first 6 chicks are keeping us plenty busy while we look forward to the next eggs to hatch.
Please check our site on June 6th for a web page update.
See our Crane Videos!
Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program. Please check our site on June 6th for a web page update!Whooping Crane Reports
Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).