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April 24, 2003

Learning to Eat
Feeding Lesson:
See a Chick Learning to Eat in
this Video.
Photo Patuxent WRC

crane02WCEP_003

Even in the wild, whooper parents have to teach their chicks to eat and drink. Wild whooper parents catch food for their chicks all day long.

The handlers that care for the chicks don't have to catch the food, but they spend many hours patiently teaching the chicks how to eat. They also know that a crane's favorite color is red. The costumed handler dips the bill of a crane puppet into a bowl of water, then into a crane-cumbles. The crumbles are a specially formulated high protein food with everything a growing chick needs. The crumbles stick to the puppet's bill. The chick pecks the food off the bill, and eventually follows the puppet bill to the food or water. It doesn't take long for the chick to realize where the food is. Soon it will wobble over to the dish to serve itself.

The chick in this video is only hours old. The puppet head is teaching the young chick to eat crane crumbles. The puppet head plays a recording of a "contact call," communicating with the chick like a real crane parent would.


Try This! Journaling Questions
  • Why do you think the food bowl is red?
  • This rule is part of the Protocol (See April 22 Highlight for more about Protocol) for raising whooper chicks:"Absolutely no feeding will be done from hand. All food used as an incentive will be dispensed by methods other than hand tossing. Mealworms or other treats will be pointed out using a puppet to encourage foraging." Why do you think this rule is necessary? Write your response in your journals, then read read what we think (rule 5).


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

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