Nesting Errors: Learning From Mistakes

Overview: Students hear the stories of the first eggs laid (and lost) by inexperienced pairs in the new Eastern flock. They brainstorm and list what might have gone wrong, and what the birds might have learned from those mistakes.

Whooping Crane Nest
Can you find the crane nest?
Photo R. Urbanek, WCEP

Human babies don't come with instructions, and whooping crane eggs don't, either. How is a new parent supposed to know what to do? Parenting takes practice, and beginners — whether whooping cranes or humans — sometimes make mistakes.

In April 2005 two Eastern flock whooper pairs made history-making news. Cranes #101 and #202 produced the first egg ever laid by reintroduced whooping cranes in the eastern migratory flock! Shortly after, #211 and #217 laid an egg in their nest too. But neither egg hatched.

Egg loss is quite common with inexperienced birds, but experts know that cranes learn from their mistakes. What ways do you predict these eggs might have been destroyed?

What might destroy a crane egg? What might the crane learn when this happens?

After you fill out the chart, compare your thinking with the expert's.
Crane #202 on her nest. (Through a telescope)
Photo WCEP

What actually happened to the eggs? Read each crane's story to find out (scroll to years 2005 and later):

Crane Pair #211 and #217

Crane Pair #101 and #202



Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).