IN THE FIELD UPDATE Jun.27,2012 The young Whooping crane chicks, which arrived at their new home at the White River Marsh in Green Lake Co., WI last Friday have trained with the aircraft on three occasions. Well, almost three.The first outing on Sunday went very well and they dutifully followed Joe Duff as he slowly taxied the wingless aircraft up and down the grass training strip adjacent their enclosure. After 6 return trips, the youngsters were returned to their now familiar enclosure and each one entered without coaxing. From all appearances it looked as if this group of six was one well behaved group! Monday morning arrived and as Joe was training solo that morning, naturally there were issues. The first, which set the stage for the rest of the morning training session was when his vocalizer quit. Each costumed handler carries a small, concealed MP3 player which broadcasts a purring brood call normally broadcast by an adult crane. These little guys have heard this sound even prior to hatching out of their egg shells and it’s meant to be a reassuring ‘everything’s okay’ sound. When the costume entered the enclosure and left the exterior door open – NOT making the brood call sound, they knew something was up and they refused to cooperate. Three or so exited at first but as soon as they noticed the other reluctant three, they retreated to the enclosure and headed for the safety of the water. After an extreme amount of patient (and ineffective) coaxing, training for that day was called off. Yesterday morning, and armed with a working MP3 unit, and another costumed handler to assist, Joe returned and all of the chicks exited on cue. Number 6-12, the oldest female of the class decided to check out the area, first to the south, and then to the north of their pen and once Joe wrangled her back onto the grass strip, they spent some time with them in proximity of the aircraft. This was only the second time they have seen this particular aircraft and while they look very similar to the others, I’m certain there are some differences that perhaps the cranes must notice. Number 4-12 seemed a bit aloof during the first couple of taxi runs, so more time was spent coaxing him closer to the trike and eventually, even he was following with his five flock mates. Yesterday’s training session lasted close to 90 minutes so everyone watching live via the CraneCam had some great views! At this point in their conditioning the large wing isn’t yet required since the cranes are still flightless as well. This means that the weather isn’t as much of a factor for the pilots either and there is a fulltime ground-training trike located on site and just needs to be driven a short way along the new access road leading to the site. Training will get underway usually between 7:30 – 8am Central time. If you’d like to join in to watch live you can view from our CraneCam page, or if you prefer the social networking aspect of Ustream, visit the cranes there. Huge thanks to Tom Schultz for sharing the view from the blind with us (and you!). Stay tuned for details on arranging a visit to the blind very shortly! After about an hour all six young Whooping cranes were following the wingless aircraft up and down the grass training strip next to their enclosure.