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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.  Patuxent crew 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 neighbor. 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 crumbles.

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.

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The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership was formed to carry out this reintroduction. To learn more about the partnership please click on the above logo.