WHOOPING CRANE CHICK: DAY 91
has graduated! At 70 days of age (July 10) he was fully fledged. Fledging
is the end of Tux's "childhood." His wings are fully developed
and he's ready to start flying. By fledging, most chicks have lost their
tendencies to be aggressive to other chicks and behave more socially.
They're also ready for more exercise than they can get in the crane chick
building. At 74 days, Tux, and seven other chicks were moved as a group
out of the familiar crane chick building and into an outdoor pen complex.
These pens are very large and have a big pond in the center. In
this picture, you can see Tux foraging in the water. He is standing
hock-deep in the pond, but towards the center of the pond the water gets
deeper. It's important for cranes to learn to wade in deep water. Sleeping
(or roosting) in deeper water keeps cranes safe from nighttime predators.
By giving the chicks exposure to a large pond, they'll learn this behavior
that, normally, their parents would teach them if they'd been raised in
the wild. Today, Tux is 91 days old, and is enjoying life in the pond pen.
To limit human contact, the birds are observed by an infrared video
camera. We can view tapes taken overnight that lets us see if the birds
are learning to sleep in water.
the second picture the fledged birds are exercising their large wings, and
taking short practice flights. Since the chicks were raised in dry pens,
this spacious watery environment is exciting to them. Their early exposure
to a small pond allows them to feel comfortable in this larger version.
They take to the pond eagerly, hunting frogs, crayfish, and minnows. Tux
and the other birds are now as tall as they are going to get, but they are
still developing muscle and bone and will grow heavier until they're fully
mature. The white object on the far left in the picture is a plastic crane
decoy painted to look like a whooping crane. The chicks were raised with
these decoys, and are familiar with them. Placing the decoy over the
deepest water encourages the chicks to try out the "deep end" --
the safest place for them at night in the wild. The other white object to
the right of the decoy is a drainpipe that allows us to regulate the depth
of the water.
birds will enjoy the pond pens until winter. When the ponds are in danger
of freezing and pose a slippery hazard to the birds, they'll be moved into
dry pens until it's time for them to go to Florida.
Please check our site on August 31st 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.