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June 15, 2002

Joe at Patuxent with a decoy

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Smart Dummies

Is that a real crane? The crew got new crane decoys (or dummies) this year. They are a big improvement over the first "dummies" used in 2001. The decoys have been with the young chicks since hatching so the chicks have imprinted on them. Decoys are placed in the pens so the chicks identify with how they look. The crew also sets decoys where they want the whooper chicks to be. The young birds don't think the decoys are birds, but they do recognize them as familiar silhouettes.

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Chicks learn to roost in water at night. Photo OM
Crane decoys stand in the water roosting areas of each enclosure at the three training sites at Necedah. The crane handlers put them there to encourage the chicks to roost in water. (Roosting means standing on one leg to sleep at night.) The crane team tries to ensure that the water level in the pond is appropriate. If the water level is too high, the chicks can't roost there at night. If it's too low, they are not safe from predators that may try to sneak a night attack. The right water level helps the cranes hear the splashing of any predator that approaches. The birds have time to fly off to escape.



Try This! Journaling Question
  • What crane predators do you think live in Wisconsin? What predators can you think of for the cranes' winter home in Florida? (You'll learn more about predators in the July 14 report.)


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

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