Eggs Become Eastern Flock's FIRST Chicks!
by Kelly Maguire, ICF Aviculturist.
The two eggs laid at the Necedah National Wildlife
Refuge by Whooping Crane pair #213 and #218 were picked up on April
24, 2006. The eggs were
collected after Richard Urbanek (USFWS) and Lara Fondow (USFWS) checked
on the pair in the late afternoon and saw the parents were not near
the nest. Lara stayed to watch and see if the adults would come back
Richard made calls to arrange possible collection and transport of
the eggs to ICF if they were still in the nest. Lara continued to
watch the nest. After two hours the adults showed no sign of coming
to the nest. That’s when Richard and Lara went out to check
on it. They found two eggs in the nest. They removed the two eggs
replaced them with one dummy egg, in case the adults finally came
back and resumed incubating. (They never did).
The Traveling Eggs
Richard transferred the eggs to ICF in a warm egg box, but the
eggs were still cool to the touch when arriving at ICF. Once at
ICF we candled
the eggs (held a light to them). This showed us that both eggs were
fertile. The youngest of the eggs had a small hole in the shell,
probably made by an adult bird accidentally stepping on it and
shell with a claw. Luckily, the hole did not go through the inner
egg membrane, so the embryo still had some protection. I covered
with a small piece of permeable tape to help protect the embryo inside.
These eggs had three things going for them: 1) They were both good
size eggs; 2) It was a very warm day when they were abandoned, so
the sun kept them warm; and 3) Richard and Lara re experts.
Kelly Cares for the Eggs
Once we determined the eggs were fertile, I disinfected them and
placed them into a machine incubator. I checked them every morning
if the aircells broke down, which would be the first sign that
the embryo might have died. Each day I checked, I was pleasantly
that everything looked good. However, the real test would be on
April 29 when both embryos should start moving. When I checked
the 29th, I placed them on a counter and played a Whooping Crane
stimulate the embryo. Neither egg moved. I then floated the eggs
in warm water--the water amplifies any small movement that may
been picked up on the counter. The younger egg did not move, but
the older egg just started rocking! I couldn't’t believe it! I checked
the younger one again, and it moved a bit the second time! Both viable!!
A Happy Ending
On May 4th the two Necedah eggs were packed up in an egg box with
four ICF eggs and carried to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Maryland by Nat Warning, ICF Aviculturist. The older Necedah
egg and the oldest ICF eggs were peeping when they arrived. On
5, 2006, the
first Necedah egg hatched, followed by the second one on May
7, 2006. These are the first chicks to be hatched
from eggs laid by birds of the new Eastern flock!
The May 5th chick became #602 in
the ultralight-led Class of 2006! The May 7th chick became #603.