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Whooping cranes at migration site #1. A plastic brood model is in the pen too..

The ten young cranes all have some rusty feathers among their white ones. The all-white crane standing alone nearer the top of the photo isn't a living crane. It is a plastic decoy called a brood model. A brood model has been with the young cranes since they hatched. It looks like an adult Whooping crane. The brood model keeps the young cranescompany and "shows" them what an adult of their species looks like. A brood model always accompanies the young cranes from travel pen to travel pen. A brood model has always been in their enclosure or pen from the time they hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. It's sort of of like a "security blanket" for the birds as they grow up.

Image: Tom Schultz