Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

April 30, 2003

Learning From Role Models
Crane #305, 11 days old.
Crane 206 stayed at Patuxent to be a role model. Photos Dan Sprague, Patuxent WRC

Once old enough, the chicks are placed in individual pens next to adult Whooping cranes (see video, below). It's important for chicks to see adult cranes right away. Then when they grow up, they will recognize their own kind and mate with the correct species. The chicks watch these adult whoopers and imitate them.

In the wild, baby whoopers learn migration from their parents, but that isn't possible for chicks hatched in captivity. That's where ultralight airplanes and people in white costumes will take over that job for these special chicks of the new Eastern flock. Operation Migration is the organization that first used ultralight planes to lead birds on migration in the hopes of someday helping endangered species. That day has come, and these 17 chicks are the the third group added to the core flock of Whooping cranes (21 birds as of spring 2003) once again migrating in the eastern and midwestern part of North America.

VIDEO CLIP: Chicks With Adult Role Models

Try This! Journaling Question
  • Why are role models of living adult Whooping cranes so important to the chicks hatched in captivity for this migration project?

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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