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A few days after the chicks arrived, the crew brought each group out of
the pens and introduced them to their respective training strips. Dan
was on the training strip with them, assuring them that the costumes had
not changed, the trike (ultralight) was the same, and only the location
was different. Since the young whoopers already were familiar with the
trike and the costumes, they adapted quite well.
trike is still "wingless."
the wing will be added. The chicks get used to each change gradually.
chicks are getting their all-important primary feathers. Which chick
is in front? (Click to enlarge, then read leg band.)
first days at the refuge, the cranes work with the wingless aircraft.
They follow the taxiing trike for the length of the grassy training strip.
As their flight feathers and wing muscles develop, the colts
(young cranes) will eventually take flight and follow the airborne ultralight
over central Wisconsin. Flight training will continue until the flock
departs on fall migration to Florida. The crew is hoping for an early
Notice the black feathers on the cranes' wingtips? These are called the
primary feathers. The young cranes' feathers are growing,
and the primary wing feathers are big and strong enough to catch air now.
A few of the older cranes have even been gliding a few feet already. The
long, black outer feathers must do the hardest work in flying. The black
pigments within the feathers make the feathers stronger, so they'll last
during a long migration. When the wing flaps downward, each primary feather's
strong, flat surface pushes against the air to hold the bird up. The large
surface area of these feathers helps hold the birds up when thermal air
currents or updrafts push against them.
the team of pilots and trainers rise with the sun. They quietly travel
to the first site to conduct the training session--if weather permits.
Calm days are best. When the cranes at one site finish their training
session, the crew travels to the other site. There they begin the process
again with the other cohort. Soon there will be a third group of chicks
arriving, and another training site to visit each day!
Later, as the cranes begin to follow the ultralight in flight, the trainers
will merge them into larger groups based on the dominance structure until
there's one unified flock just before migration.
This! Journaling Question
pilots and trainers--Joe, Dan, Brooke, Richard and other crew members--are
very dedicated. The birds must be looked after 7 days a week. The
team stays at Necedah, living in RVs, away from their families for
weeks at a time. Who do you know in your own life who is very dedicated
to a goal? (It could be YOU!) What traits describe a person with dedication?
Journey North is pleased to feature this educational
adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).
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