Now, I’ve already introduced you all to the senior four birds of the Class of 2012: 4-12, 5-12, 6-12 and 7-12.  As it turns out 8-12 is destined to aid his species in his own way as a genetic holdback.  So that leaves us with three new little tikes: 9-12, 10-12 and 11-12.  Each and every one of them is alive and well and is making bold new progress.

Number 9-12 seems to run hot and cold – Most notably with his drinking.  Some sessions, he’ll down drinks from the jug without you having to ask.  Other days, I have to beg on my knees just to get him to take one sip.  In theory, he should be getting worked from the outside with the puppet but he hasn’t responded much to that – other than pecking and jabbing at the puppet, trying to figure out why it’s dancing all of a sudden.

On the bright side, he eats just fine when you’re in the pen with him. I think he likes having a buddy to eat with, as he’ll keep on eating so long as you keep the puppet beak in the bowl.  He seems to value his beauty sleep; it’s not unusual to find him curled up asleep as I’m trying to go in and work on him. Ali has noted on a couple of times he’s fallen asleep just as he’s trying to work with him. Granted, it does happen with others from time-to-time but this guy’s trying to throw the average a little.

I worry number 10-12 is a slacker. When he was still in the ICU he was never responsive – either ignoring the puppet, or just tapping it enough to make it go away. Naturally, he doesn’t eat or drink much, left alone on his own from the bowl of crumbles.  Or, if he does, he needs a lot of leading around. I haven’t worked with him much ever since he moved to his own pen but the Patuxent staff has mentioned on occasion that his lazy ways haven’t changed much. I’m sure he’ll catch up with the other birds when he’s good and ready, of course.

Chick 11-12 isn’t as withdrawn as 10-12 was.  I’m not ashamed to say that I got him to eat and drink out of the bowl one of my first sessions with him in the ICU.  However, it turned out to be a one-time deal, as he went back to staggering around the Plexiglas box and/or trying to escape out the door.  He seems to be fairly good at it, as he’s gotten past me once or twice.  But he never gets far. As soon as he drops from the ICU to the tabletop (it’s a one inch drop, so don’t worry), he just sits on the table, motionless, almost like he’s pouting “Somebody pushed me.  Poopie-head!”  As it’s cute and kinda comical, it makes it real easy to scoop him up and place him back in the ICU.  I’m sure he was thrilled when he got moved to his new pen yesterday.  Sharon tells me he had no trouble getting cozy, as he fell asleep not long after moving to his new pen.

Now we should be all caught up on the introductions until a 12-12, 13-12 or a 14-12 joins the party.  I should also tell you that numbers 4-12, 5-12 and 6-12 have all met the aircraft or ‘trike’ as we like to call it.  Brooke and I have helped 4-12 and 5-12 take the first big step as ultralight birds by starting the engine up next to them.  They can now hold their ground against the scary roar of the engine.  Brooke could tell you better than I could, but they seemed to have performed to his satisfaction.  6-12 was a little more timid of the trike’s roaring engine and isn’t quite ready to follow.  But I’m sure he will be tomorrow or the day after.  The time spent with the trike is what was important.  After all, this was one of his first times completely outside of his pen.  That alone can be daunting. Especially since 6-12 can be a little nervous at times).

Number 7-12’s first date with the trike is just around the corner.  Once he learns to eat on his own, and hold onto his weight, he’ll be running around after that 3-wheeled aircraft in no time!

number 9-12. Hatch date: May 7

number 10-12. Hatch date: May 7

11-12. Hatch date: May 9

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