Many thanks to the crane crew at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research
Center in Laurel, MD and in particular, Carlyn Caldwell for the following
images. Be sure to visit Patuxents' crane update
page for more information.
These two youngsters: approximately 2 weeks of age, investigate the
marsh looking for treats.
member Jared uses the puppet head to lead the first three
chicks to Dan waiting in the wingless trike for some early
aircraft-conditioning in the circle-pen.
Chick #3 at 7 days of age works with the aircraft. The
chicks are accustomed to the noise because a recording of the engine
is played several times each day before the chicks hatch.
The puppet is used to
dispense mealworms occasionally, which act as a reward for the young crane
as it follows the trike.
If the weather cooperates the chicks are
allowed out in the day runs at three days of age. Each chick is
situated adjacent a run, which contains an adult whooping crane to
provide correct sexual imprinting. Here, 3-day old crane #7 meets his
Here crane #4 is being weighed on day 12.
When they are this young and gangly they are weighed inside a box to
prevent any mishaps.
Crane #3 is 4 days older than his future
flockmate and not as gangly. He is enticed onto the scale with
mealworms - Yum!
And this is our oldest crane, #1 at day
12 being led to the circle-pen by the costumed handler who is using
the puppet head with the extension.
Hatching is hard work and can take several hours from the time the
chick first "pips" through the egg shell.
After the chick takes a well-deserved rest beside "Mom"
the puppet is used to encourage the tiny crane to eat some crane
Whooping crane eggs need 29-31 days before they
are ready to hatch
The chick works for several hours, using its egg
tooth to enlarge the opening.
Once the opening is large enough the chick uses its
legs to push itself out of the confines of the egg.