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June 25, 2003

Smart Dummies
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OM pilot Joe Duff with decoy in workshop at Patuxent WRC . Photo JN.

Is that a real crane in Joe's hands? No, it's a crane decoy (imitation or dummy). 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 the sight of members of their own species. The crew also places 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 NWR. The crane handlers put them there to encourage the chicks to roost in water. 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 the water level is too low, chicks are not safe from sneak attacks by nighttime predators. The right water level helps the cranes hear the splashing of any predator that approaches, and the birds have time to fly away.


Try This! Journaling Question
  • Read how experts explain roosting, and then write a paragraph that explains what roosting is and why water roosting is important. Write a good topic sentence and include important statements and details that support it.


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

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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