Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

June 2, 2001

Ground School


Dan Sprague has been with the chicks from the egg stage, and will stay with them throughout their training and their first migration. The chicks attend "ground school class" with Dan and the trike of the ultralight aircraft whenever weather allows.

Video Clip

See a one-week old chick doing trike training.
Operation Migration

The young crane is placed inside a circle-pen about two feet high, and Dan slowly taxies the ultralite trike around the perimeter. On his arm he wears a puppet head resembling an adult whooping crane to encourage the chicks to follow the trike, which travels outside of the enclosure.


Do you see the black loudspeaker mounted on the frame of the trike in the photo? Recorded adult crane vocalizations are played over the speaker to communicate with the little birds. The ultralight engine is loud, but the chicks are used to the noise. They've been hearing it since still inside the egg! The crew fondly calls the puppet head "Robo-crane" because it has the ability to drop tasty mealworms for the birds as a reward for following. Meet Robo-crane and get a closer look at its parts.

It took Dan some time to get used to this long puppet head, but he steers the aircraft with his feet. That frees up his hands to operate the trigger that dispenses the meal worm treats.

Hear Dan tell about using the Robo-crane

Audio Clip

(.wma file, 602 Kb/ .wav file, 255K/ .aif file, 255K)

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

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