But who, and where, are they? You've never seen anything in your life before this, and all of a sudden there are bewildering sights in every direction. You can see your nest, shrubs and trees, grasses and flowers, a puffy white cloud in the sky, a frog jumping right past your face, a brightly colored butterfly. A duck waddles close, and suddenly two long, black legs attached to a big white, feathery body with a long neck and startling face chases it away in a flurry of quacks and feathers. Every sight is strange, but your eyes are drawn to the gold eyes, long black beaks, and especially the bare red skin on the face attached to that big, white, feathered body.
Its big beak draws
close and tenderly takes away some jagged pieces of eggshell, and something
clicks. This is Mommy! For the next 10 or 11 months, this bird and
who looks just like her will be the most important things in your life.
You will feel anxious anytime you can't see or hear them. If one of
takes a step with those long legs, you will take a dozen baby steps to
keep up. And when one of them flies and calls to you, you will beat
little wings and run to try to keep up. One day in about two months,
your growing wings will beat so hard that they'll pull you off the
bit, and by the time you're three months old or so, you'll be flying
strong—just to keep up with your parents.
Operation Migration: A Tricky Experiment
Raising baby cranes in captivity to release them into the wild is a difficult and tricky task. It's important for any growing baby to feel safe and comfortable, but wild cranes are in terrible danger if they come too close to humans. Captive-bred baby cranes that will be released into the wild must never become tame with their handlers. They must never associate hands with food, or faces with love and kindness. The scientists at Operation Migration know that the safest way to raise their baby cranes is to keep the babies from ever seeing a human face or hands. They badly want these cranes to grow up as healthy wild cranes, and eventually to mate with other wild cranes and raise healthy wild babies. To give the chicks the best possible chance for this, the OM folks have developed a set of rules, or a protocol. Everyone who comes anywhere near these babies must follow that protocol. NO exceptions! Ever!
1. Print and read the Operation Migration's official protocol. The pilot-scientists at Operation Migration are pioneers in leading birds on migration with ultralight planes. Their experiences with geese and sandhill cranes have taught them many ways to use the techniques with whooping cranes. Their protocol is the result. As you read, think of possible reasons why each rule is important. Note reasons in your journal or on the chalkboard as you discuss them in class.
2. After your discussion, see what we think. Find our discussion here:
National Science Education Standards