Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

April 21, 2003

First Chick Hatched!
Today the first chick for the 2003 ultralight flock pecked through its shell. Its name is "301." The chicks for each year's ultralight migration are numbered in order of hatching. The first number stands for the hatch year, which is 2003. The second numbers tell you that this chick hatched first. This naming system is new in 2003.

This year's chicks all hatched between April 21 (the oldest bird) and May 23 (youngest). An average Whooping crane egg is 102 mm long (4 inches) and weighs 208 grams (7 ounces). The newly hatched chicks are in a drawer-like incubator (photo below). This keeps them warm during the drying-out process and first few hours after hatching. The average incubation period is 30 days in the shell.

Photos PWRC
Photo Heather Ray, WCEP

Because Whooping cranes are the most endangered of 17crane species, each egg is precious. All the eggs were hatched at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) near Laurel, Maryland. Captive Whooping cranes there lay most of the eggs that will become the birds in the new Eastern flock. Ultralight chicks have also included eggs from captive whoopers at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin as well as the San Antonio Zoo in Texas.


Try This! Lessons and Journaling Questions
  • What is captive breeding, and why is it necessary? Find out and see some fun activities here: Why Captive Breeding?
  • Imagine being a chick inside the egg. It's dark and cramped, and hatching is hard work. Take an imaginary trip inside a whooper egg with this great Journey North visualization and lesson: An Inside Story: Visualizing Inside the Egg

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

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