One of my favorite things in the world is to watch someones 1st time getting up close and personal with the whooping cranes.

I have spent the past week with Vanessa, who has been volunteering here at Patuxent for a couple of weeks. I’ve really enjoyed working with her. She has been awesome guiding me through the many things that need to be done in preparation for chick season!

One of our jobs this week has been to socialize 3 yearling whooping crane youngsters. (We did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming to this chore).

These birds are yearlings that were held back and the decision to keep them here at Patuxent was made late in the season so they were kept sheltered from people. One is a wheezer; one has a limp, and I can’t remember the 3rd one’s issue. So, now that they are going to become part of the flock here so they need to get used to people.

Whether they become part of a breeding pair or become an imprint model teaching tiny chicks that? they are Whooping Cranes, they will be around people from this point on.

Two of the chicks are pushovers and as you can see, Vanessa made a friend last Friday morning. The 3rd wants nothing to do with us or our tasty smelt.

Smelt are used to convince the young cranes that humans are okay. Photo: Colleen Chase

The 3rd crane in the background isn’t having any part of this. Game on #27-16!

Vanessa wins over two of the yearling whooping cranes with smelt. Photo: Colleen Chase

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  1. Margie Tomlinson April 21, 2017 2:07 pm

    Hey, Colleen! Great photos of Vanessa with the young Whoopers getting their smelt treats. Reminds me of my first encounter with the male adult Whooper at ICF in 2012.

  2. Peter Smith April 19, 2017 8:46 pm

    Fabulous stories and photos from your team this week, Colleen! We craniacs are grateful for everything you all do, every single day, to help this mission. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd April 19, 2017 8:24 pm

    Love the pictures and play by play. This Annapolitan is definitely fighting the green monster called envy. thank you for sharing the joy you and Vanessa are experiencing; smelly smelt not withstanding. Will you try to entice the reticent one with night-crawlers, crickets, or tadpoles?

  4. Mindy April 19, 2017 1:35 pm

    Great pictures Colleen! Enjoy every day! So glad you get to be there!

  5. Mollie Cook April 19, 2017 10:45 am

    But we know you are loving it, smelly smelt & all! So much joy to look forward to each day. Enjoy to the hilt Colleen!!!

  6. Terry Johnson April 19, 2017 8:07 am

    Colleen! Are you in heaven?!?!

  7. Richard P. Chase April 19, 2017 7:33 am

    Well dearie, I know that you are in “high cotton” these days. Just think, you will be seeing a bunch of little brown creatures soon that will grow into big white birds. My only request (and advice) is that you don’t forget to breath. Your body NEEDS to enjoy a steady supply of oxygen. 😉