in the Pond.
employee, works with Patuxent staff to train
the WCEP chicks. In this picture, Vicki is taking WCEP chicks #01, 02, 03,
and 05 out to the pond pens to socialize them with each other, to get some
exercise, and to get them used to deeper water. Since their pens are dry
except for a small footbath, the large pond is a whole new experience for
the chicks. These birds, the oldest four, are close to 30 days old. 01,
the oldest, has a strap of white tape around his wing to correct angel
wing, a deviation often seen in captivity. This wing problem is easily
corrected with 2 days of corrective taping.
WCEP #02, with the green band,
is still getting his toes taped, but they're straightening nicely. It doesn't
stop him from exploring the pond. Not only does the pond host a wide variety of
aquatic life for the chicks to catch, but our area has been experiencing the
return of the 17-year cicadas, which have been a source of fascination and
exotic snacks for this year's chicks.
You can see how much these
oldest birds have grown in barely a month. Their primary wing feathers are
just beginning to emerge. They've been socialized together as much as
possible and are getting along very well. Whooper chicks can be aggressive
towards one another, but getting the chicks to socialize at an early age
is critical to ensure they'll act as an organized group when they're ready
to start flying behind
Dan Sprague, USGS
WCEP #15, at 12 hours old, is
cuddled up with his puppet head. But by day 5 he didn't want to
share his food bowl with the puppet any longer and attacked it, forcing us
to remove it. In triumph, 15 staked out his food bowl, even falling asleep
in it, to make sure that puppet didn't sneak back in again. Funny moments
like this remind us that each whooper chick is an individual with his own
way of dealing with the world.
Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
Number of Chicks: 17
WCEP #12 is barely 6 hours
old in this picture. He's sleeping next to his puppet in the warm ICU.
WCEP #13 (on the left) is 4
days old in this picture, and #14 (on the right) was only 2 days old
when this picture was taken.
skip WCEP #15. He can be seen in two pictures in the right hand column.
WCEP #16 (on the left) is 6 days old and has a few toes taped. #17 (on
the right) is also 6 days old in this picture. 17 is very pale in
The color variation among whooper chicks is subtle, ranging from a dark
cinnamon to a more blond shade.
WCEP #18, the youngest chick, at 4 days of age, is being encouraged to
eat with the puppet head. 18 is eating on his own a little, but not enough
to gain weight, so the staff continues to encourage the chick.
This picture, taken only
moments after the one above, shows Mark, another
employee, working with #18. Mark has lured the chick to the water jug
and has coaxed him into taking a drink.
After leaving 18's pen,
Mark comes into the crane workroom, adjacent to the aviary, and watches
the chick in the monitor. Just a few minutes after working with the
chick, he sees 18 drinking on his own.