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THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 33

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New!Visit our new Whooper Report Site Map and find out what you've been missing! New!
We have 8 web pages of General Information, 24 different Whooping Crane Chick Reports, and 33 Whooper Reports. There's lots of information, photos, and videos packed on these web pages, so check out our site map and find out what you've been missing.

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WCEP chick #01 is 1 day old and walking well, so he's introduced to his pen, his puppet mom, and the chick starter crumbles that will provide a balanced diet for a growing whooper. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

WCEP chick #01 is 1 day old and walking well, so he's introduced to his pen, his puppet mom, and the chick starter crumbles that will provide a balanced diet for a growing whooper. Nearby is a stuffed brooder model that looks like a whooping crane, and a heat lamp that will keep him warm. 

Barbara, in costume, holds a puppet head and works with WCEP chick #02 in the warm Intensive Care Unit. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Barbara, in costume, holds a puppet head and works with WCEP chick #02 in the warm Intensive Care Unit. The chick only hatched a few hours ago and isn't walking yet. Chicks less than 24 hours old aren't ready for the variable temperature fluctuations in the pen. In the ICU, Barbara can work closely with the chick, introducing it to the puppet, and giving the chick his first lessons in eating and drinking. While she works with the puppet head, she plays a recording of a whooping crane brood call. 

WCEP #03 is still drying off in this picture. This chick is so young, his legs are still puffy from being in the egg. Within a day, the fluid in his legs will be absorbed. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

WCEP #03 is still drying off in this picture. This chick is so young, his legs are still puffy from being in the egg. Within a day, the fluid in his legs will be absorbed.

The San Antonio Zoo brought us two whooper eggs for the WCEP project. This egg, the first one, has already started the hatching process. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

The San Antonio Zoo brought us two whooper eggs for the WCEP project. This egg, the first one, has already started the hatching process. You can see the tip of the chick's beak at the bottom of the hole pip. First the chick makes a tiny star pip, just a small crack in the egg, then, after resting, the chick makes the pip into a dime-sized hole like this one. After another rest, the chick will start to cut his way out of the large end of the egg. If all goes well, this chick should be hatched by tomorrow. The second San Antonio Zoo egg isn't due to hatch until May.

Finally, Spring Is Really Here!

The whoopers have been telling us that spring has been here for some time. They've been courting and dancing, nest building and egg laying. But with the chilly, rainy weather Patuxent has been having, it hasn't felt much like spring. At least not until April 20th, when the first whooper chick hatched. Only then did it feel as if spring had officially arrived. As if the first hatchling brought good weather with him, the sun has come out, temperatures have warmed up, wildflowers are blooming in profusion, and spring is most definitely everywhere we look.

This first whooper of the season is slated to be part of this year's migratory WCEP flock, and is designated WCEP #01. He's strong and energetic, a typical 02-84003 and 02-85001 chick. But he doesn't have to worry about being an only child. Not a full day after he hatched, he was joined by WCEP #02 and #03. 

It's not definite that chick #02 will remain with the WCEP program. We've sent that chick's egg membranes out for sexing. If the results tell us #02 is a female, then she'll remain at Patuxent as a breeder. We need a female to represent her genetic line. However, if #02 is a male, then the bird will remain in the WCEP program. In the meantime, it won't cause any problems to raise the chick as a WCEP bird, since so much of early chick rearing is the same, no matter where the chicks are scheduled to end up.

Baby whoopers tire and fall asleep suddenly, like babies everywhere. Several hours after hatching, WCEP #03 is taken from the hatcher and put in an ICU where he can be fed for the first time. Now he's worn out after eating just a few bites. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Baby whoopers tire and fall asleep suddenly, like babies everywhere. Several hours after hatching, WCEP #03 is taken from the hatcher and put in an ICU where he can be fed for the first time. Now he's worn out after eating just a few bites.

His eyes start to close and he pitches forward with only the tip of his beak holding up his heavy head. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS  

His eyes start to close and he pitches forward with only the tip of his beak holding up his heavy head. 

Seconds later, the rest of his body follows as he drapes himself over the face of his puppet mom. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Seconds later, the rest of his body follows as he drapes himself over the face of his puppet mom.

Finally, he snuggles up for a solid nap. In an hour or so he'll be hungry again and ready for a few more bites. In just 24 hours he'll be ready to travel around a bigger pen. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Finally, he snuggles up for a solid nap. In an hour or so he'll be hungry again and ready for a few more bites. In just 24 hours he'll be ready to travel around a bigger pen.

Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Now that spring, and the whooper chicks, are off to a running start, we plan to update our page weekly. Most of the focus will be on the progress of the WCEP chicks as they hatch and grow and start "ground school" here at Patuxent. It's the most exciting time of year for us, and we hope that by keeping our page current, you can share that excitement with us. 


In the dappled shade of the woods, drifts of tiny spring beauties are scattered like snowflakes among their delicate, grass-like leaves. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
In the dappled shade of the woods, drifts of tiny spring beauties are scattered like snowflakes among their delicate, grass-like leaves.

A close-up view of these small, native wildflowers lets us appreciate just how lovely they are. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
A close-up view of these small, native wildflowers lets us appreciate just how lovely they are.

Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS

Spring at Patuxent -- Just Beautiful!

Patuxent is also home to a lot of native wildlife, both animal and plant. At this time of year, blooming trees and wildflowers decorate the surrounding woodlands and meadows. The variety of flowers can be simply breathtaking. 

A redbud tree in full bloom outside Stickel Lab. Photos, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
A redbud tree in full bloom outside Stickel Lab.

This Year's Migration Success!

You can read regular updates and see pictures of the WCEP migratory flock as they leave Florida to return to Wisconsin at the International Crane Foundations' migration website:  http://www.savingcranes.org/about/whats_new/. Several of the birds from 2003 have already arrived at Necedah.

Their migration photo journal can be seen at: http://www.savingcranes.org/about/whats_new/.  

More updates and information on the WCEP project can be found at:
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership
website and at the Journey North Whooping Crane website. 

Information about the WCEP whoopers' winter and summer homes can be found  at the Chassahowitzka NWR site and the Necedah NWR site.

Florida Update!

The non-migratory whoopers in Florida are nesting. Information about last year's production can be found on the Whooping Crane Conservation Association's website under Flock Status

See our Crane Videos!

Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program.   And don't forget to check out our new SITE MAP to learn more about our previously published whooper reports. Please check our site on April 29 for a web page update!  

Whooping Crane Reports

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Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).

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Other Patuxent Crane Information

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA
URL http://whoopers.usgs.gov
Contact: Jonathan Male
Last modified: 04/21/2004
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