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THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 10
Patuxent Crane Videos (latest video


Whooping Crane chick during early flight training shown with puppet head
During early flight training, chicks are led to the training pen with a crane puppet head. This is an extra long puppet that the trainer, Dan, can manipulate while driving the plane on the ground. The puppet head has a small trap door and a trigger release that lets Dan drop mealworms from the puppet head, giving the chicks "treats" as a reward from their "parent". The circular training pen keeps the chicks safe from the plane while they're learning to follow it. The chicks start this training while they are only a few days old.

Feeding of mealworm treat to Whooping Crane chick
Dan releases some mealworms from the puppet head onto the ground as a treat for the chick. You can see the red crown of the puppet head as the puppet "probes" in the ground, showing the chick the mealworms it has just delivered.

Whooping Crane chick follows ultralight on ground around pen
After the treat, Dan starts the ultralight's engine and begins to taxi around the pen, keeping the puppet head extended so the chick can see it. The chick, who has been in training for weeks now and is accustomed to the sound of the plane, follows close beside it. This chick is too young to fly yet, and up to this point, the wings have not been attached to the plane. In Wisconsin that training will continue as the chicks get closer to flight age.

Two Whooping Crane chicks follow ultralight plane
Here, Dan works with two chicks at a time. Eventually the entire group of 10 chicks will follow the plane at the same time.

Above photos contributed by USGS

Photo of Sandhill Crane chicks from last year following ultralight over Autumn landscape
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Photo
Eventually, the chicks will take to the air, looking much like this photo of last year's sandhill chicks migrating behind an ultralight aircraft over the autumn landscape.


Last year's sandhills, following the ultralight on their migration, were models for this year's work.
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Photo

Last year's sandhills, following the ultralight on their migration, were models for this year's work. The sandhills migrated back to Necedah on their own, giving us strong hopes that this year's whoopers will follow their example.

 

Other excellent links to some of our partners:
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Link Operation Migration Link
US Fish and Wildlife Service Link International Crane Foundation Link
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Link Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Link
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Link

The Whooping Crane Reintroduction Event

On July 2, 2001, the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the USFWS Patuxent Research Refuge's National Wildlife Visitor Center hosted an event to celebrate and publicize an historic effort to reintroduce the endangered whooping cranes to an eastern migratory route. During the event, media representatives were able to observe the whoopers who are being trained to follow an ultralight aircraft along the chosen migratory path.

The crane chicks, bred, reared, and given their initial training at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, were unaware of the reporters watching and filming them from a distance behind a blind. Even for this important event, the chicks were not allowed to "break training" and see or hear humans who weren't in costume. The press received a lot of information about the project and were able to talk to staff members directly involved in chick rearing and training. News coverage following the event was very positive.

The reintroduction project is part of a long-term plan to create a new migratory flock of whoopers, where the last natural migratory flock disappeared 100 years ago. The huge scope and complexity of the project, which crosses many state lines and jurisdictions, is the joint effort of multiple government agencies and nonprofit organizations who have formed The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. Founding members, besides the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, are, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Operation Migration Inc., the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team. Many other flyway States, private individuals, and conservation groups have joined forces with and supported the WCEP by donating resources, funding, and personnel.

Among the many officials who attended the event were Marshall Jones, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director, Bill Hartwig, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director from the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, Bonnie McGregor, the USGS Eastern Regional Director, Steve Miller, from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, John Berry, Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Timothy J. McBride of the Chrysler Corporation, Dick Dana, private landowner and migration host, Joe Duff from Operation Migration, Inc., Jim Harris of the International Crane Foundation, and Laurie Osterndorf from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Also in attendance was the crane staff from Patuxent who enjoyed being part of the event celebrating their cranes.

On July 10, the 10 whooper chicks raised for the migration project made their first migration -- they were put on a plane (instead of flying behind it) and flown to Wisconsin to continue their training at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.  When they left Patuxent, the chicks were too young to fly.  Their maiden flight will take place in Wisconsin at Necedah. There they will undergo three months of specialized training with ultralights, using the same techniques that were so successful last year with sandhill cranes.  (Click here for further information The chicks will then depart Necedah in mid-October and fly through seven states on their way to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Approximately 25 private, State, and Federal properties will be used as stopover points for the birds, aircraft, and personnel. Daily updates, photographs and other information on the project will be available at: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org. Other relevant websites will be listed at the bottom of this page and on our links page.

As we do for the Florida release birds, we will post regular updates on the progress of the Wisconsin whoopers. Their flight to Wisconsin was successful and the chicks are doing well in their new home -- the place where, we all hope, they will some day mate and breed and teach their own chicks their special migratory path.

An excellent site with a lot of information about the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project can be found on this US Fish & Wildlife Service page:

http://midwest.fws.gov/whoopingcrane/wcraneqanda.html 

This month's video footage is of the initial training the young chicks receive while still at Patuxent. They are introduced to the plane and its sounds at a very early age so they won't be frightened by it, and a long crane head puppet is used to deliver treats such as mealworms to encourage the chicks to follow the plane and regard it as their parent. So far, the whoopers have done as well as last year's sandhills. We all hope their training at Necedah will continue to be just as successful.

Whooper Chick Pre-Flight Training Video New Icon (160x120)
Whooper Chick Pre-Flight Training Video
New Icon (320x240)

Previous Whooping Crane Videos:
Chicks getting exercise (see Report 9 ): 
Whooper Chick ExerciseVideo
(160x120)
Whooper Chick ExerciseVideo
(320x240)

3-day old chick feeding (see Report 8):
Whooper Chick Feeding Video
(160x120)
Whooper Chick Feeding Video (320x240)

Please check our site on August 23 for a web page update and new footage!

Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program.   Please check our site on August 23 for a web page update and new crane footage!

Whooping Crane Reports

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General Info on Cranes Why are Cranes Endangered? Frequently Asked Questions Photo Gallery Cool Facts Related Links Whoopers Home
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 Modification: 26-July-2001@7:45 (edt)
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