seven graduates leave for Necedah.
Remember WCEP #01 when he was just a day old? (See report
33) Here he is at 55 days old, the day before leaving Patuxent for the
Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
where staff from Patuxent and
Operation Migration will
continue the training started at Patuxent. Genetic testing has confirmed
that #01 is male.
WCEP #02 (left) is and #03
are both 54 days in these pictures. They're wearing their new, large,
brightly colored leg bands. Both are male.
WCEP #05 (left), a male, is 51 days old, ten days older than #06 (right),
who is female. #05 is the bird who got along better with birds much
younger than himself, (see report
39) and trained well with them. At this stage, the age difference
isn't as significant as it was just two weeks ago.
WCEP #07 (left) is 40 days of age, and #08 (right) is 39 days. They are
both males. The chick down still remaining on the tips of their feathers
gives them a very fuzzy appearance. The down will gradually break away as
again, we'd like to thank the Windway Capital Corporation for donating the
plane and pilot to transport the chicks from Patuxent to Necedah.
Before they left for Necedah,
the oldest chicks spent a lot of time in the pond pens socializing and
getting used to a natural environment. Mark, in costume, uses the robo-crane
to interact with 5 of the 7 chicks. This first group of birds got along
well and spent most of the day in the pond when they weren't training
with the trike.
Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
Number of Chicks: 22
This picture is a graphic
example of the rapid growth rate of whooper chicks. The bird on the left
is WCEP #12, a male at 35 days of age. The smaller chick on the right is
WCEP #20, and is only 9 days old. There is less than a month in age
between them, yet the size difference is startling. A plate of
Plexiglass allows the chicks to interact, yet prevents accidents or
aggression. Genetic tests haven't been completed for birds younger than
Here is a close-up of WCEP
#20 (left) taken on the same day. He's resting under his heat lamp,
which casts a reddish glow. On the right is #22 at 8 days of age.
The chick on the left had been WCEP #23. Unfortunately, his sibling,
WCEP #21, did not survive. Both those chicks were from a pair of
whoopers who have not previously had chicks. To maintain genetic
diversity in the breeding flock, at least one of their two chicks were
scheduled to remain at Patuxent. Since the first chick of the pair died,
that left WCEP #23 to continue the line. The chick on the right is WCEP
#24; he is only 4 days old in this picture. WCEP #24 is the last chick
that hatched this year.
WCEP #21 was the second
chick we lost this year. The chick had hatching difficulties, and had
problems with his feet shortly after hatching. We were able to solve
those problems, but the chick failed to thrive, in spite of very
intensive care from everyone involved. The chick lived 14 days but never
grew much, or learned to eat or drink on his own. The staff devoted many
hours to the chick's care, but the chick finally succumbed. The chick is
10 days old in this picture, a day older than WCEP #20 in the picture
above, yet is still the size of a newly hatched chick.
WCEP #05 can see his own
face in the camera lens and gets closer to investigate "that other
crane." #07, in the background, is content to let #05 be the brave
WCEP #05, his curiosity
satisfied for the moment, decides to give his wings a workout. The large
primaries are still emerging from the shafts. This is a fragile stage
for wing feathers, when they can get damaged or broken. The pond pens
offer plenty of room for the chicks to run and flap safely.
Kathleen O'Malley, USGS