Socializing Crane Chicks

Number 1-15 hatched May 3rd which makes him 31 days old today. Crane chicks 2-15 and 3-15 hatched May 5th so they are now 29 days of age. They have been training together for 6 days now and have done great.

Monday was the first true test of how these guys would get along. Sharon explained to me that we were going to walk these guys to a pen in the next series over. I was to show them their water buckets and footbaths then just sit and watch – not to interact and only to intervene if someone was aggressive or terribly nervous and paced or raked their beaks on the fence.

It started off on a good note. Number 2-15 came out of his run like a trooper. Up to Saturday this little guy was a real homebody and did not want to leave his safe, familiar run. Starting Sunday morning at training time he was like a different bird! Out he came and ran to the circle pen with me – Woot! Progress!!

We walked over to the large pen, I showed them the water, the foot baths and we did a tour of the pen then I settled down to watch. Within just a few minutes their true personalities came out. Without a task, not being walked or trained, you could see so much more of who each of them were!

Number 1-15 is the dominate bird! He gave a good peck to either of the two other birds who tried to get near whichever footbath he was near.

Whooping crane 1-15 guards the footbath

Whooping crane 1-15 guards the footbath

Number 2-15 is a cry baby. He peeped in varying degrees of alarm the entire time we were there. No surprise I suppose.

Whooping crane 2-15

Whooping crane 2-15

Number 3-15 just melted my heart, he clung to the costume, just as close as he could get and stuck to me like glue.


Whooping crane 3-15 seems to be the clingy one

Yesterday, Brooke and I took them back for round two of free time in the outdoor pen. It has rained a lot since Monday and the low spots have filled up so that they had a mini-pond. It was like having different birds.

Number 1-15 was still dominate, but much less snippy. He did way more foraging than guarding the foot bath! Number 2-15 had to be coaxed out of his run, but once there, did very little peeping. He found that clods of dead grass make a great toy!

Number 3-15 also enjoyed the clods of grass and played a lot, she did not feel like she had to hide beside me since number 1-15 was not wailing on her every chance he had. They each stuck close to me but every once in a while I’d move and they’d get interested in something and drift farther from me. They did great overall.

I can’t tell you how lucky and blessed I feel to be here and part of the early days of the Class of 2015. It’s been fascinating and great getting to know the people who work at Patuxent. These folks have the best job ever. I am so grateful they put me to work, I love being here, and each of them.

*While Colleen is referring to each chick as ‘he or she’ we do not, as yet, know the genders of the crane chicks.

Share Button


  1. Deanna Uphoff June 4, 2015 10:10 pm

    Do we only have 3 chicks this year?

    • Heather Ray June 5, 2015 4:59 am

      no. theyre socialized in small groups at first.

  2. vannie Zychowicz June 4, 2015 8:04 pm

    That is so great you are with the young whooper cranes of 015 thinks for sharing how they are doing on there training so far I am excited to here how they are doing


  3. westendoldbird June 4, 2015 5:40 pm

    Wonderful is all I can say. 🙂

  4. Margie Tomlinson June 4, 2015 2:41 pm

    Hey, Colleen! Thanks so much for your report. It made me feel like I was right there with you. Glad to know the little ones are doing so well, too. Wish I could live in WI for the Summer and visit all the folks working there with our Whoopers. ((<3))

  5. Mollie Cook June 4, 2015 2:37 pm

    Curious as I’m sure others are………do you have a location on 4-14 (Peanut)? Last reported in Green Lake Cnty on 5/15 w/3-14 but she was reported alone in Waushara Cnty on 5/27.

    • Heather Ray June 5, 2015 5:01 am

      we do not, but don’t forget – he does not have a PTT device.

      • Mollie Cook June 5, 2015 11:42 am

        Yes, I know & neither does 9-14. Just thought an aerial search might have found him. Thanks.

        • Heather Ray June 6, 2015 5:47 am

          Aerial searches are carried out by WI DNR pilots as time/weather/expense permit. The state is divided into two area for pilots: Original reintroduction site, in and around the Necedah NWR and the Wisconsin Rectangle, which includes White River Marsh and Horicon NWR. Unfortunately, the pilot that flies the rectangle area has not been available for a couple of weeks.

  6. lilbirdz June 4, 2015 2:34 pm

    Colleen, thank you for sharing your observations and your joy. You are in a very exclusive club, and we enjoy it vicariously through you. Can’t wait to meet these little guys!

  7. Cathy June 4, 2015 1:41 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this glimpse of Crane Kindergarten with us Colleen! And thank you for being such a great crane mama!

  8. Maggie Turk June 4, 2015 12:13 pm

    Colleen, you seem to be the” luckiest gal on the face of the earth” and I am so envious of you being able to fulfill your dreams like that. Enjoy every minute of it. I do admire your husbands comments from time to time too. You are an amazing couple. May God watch over all of you doing this wonderful work and protect all of you and your “Little Growing Family.”


  9. Mindy June 4, 2015 10:40 am

    Thank you Colleen for this glimpse into a world that none of us get to see. It IS fascinating and you ARE blessed to be there. So happy you can take part in the early steps of getting to know the chicks and helping them socialize and train. Great post for FJ! Enjoy!

  10. Mollie Cook June 4, 2015 9:36 am

    Colleen……..what a wonderful way to spend the day………I am so excited for you & so jealous! Enjoy each moment, hurdle & accomplishment………they will fly away TOO SOON! Thank you for all your efforts with “our babies”.

  11. Maxgreenwing June 4, 2015 8:08 am

    How nice and super duper for you , Colleen. Not many of us get to realize a dream . We know you will be one of the best baby crane momma’s yet!! Love you.

  12. Richard P. Chase June 4, 2015 7:57 am

    Great write-up, lovey! You do realize that you CANNOT bring one of your grandchildren home with you – don’t you? (It is a federal offense)

  13. Warrenwesternpa June 4, 2015 6:41 am

    Socializing Crane Chicks Colleen Chase

    Hello Colleen: How fortunate for you to be at Patuxent, experiencing these birds and for us to hear your details of emotions. Observing animals in the wild, domestic or in the zoo, I often wonder of their thoughts, (instincts) or how everyday occurrences form the actions they reveal. Excellent journal entry! Thank-you.

  14. Patti June 4, 2015 6:25 am

    So good to see them in training and interacting:) Enjoy this amazing time with them, before we know it they’ll be lined up behind the trikes!! 🙂