July 1, 2003
Everybirdy's in Wisconsin: One Takes Flight!
The 7 youngest chicks arrived today! Like their older flockmates who arrived on June 19, this third and final cohort flew to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in a private plane from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Now ALL of this year's 17 chicks are on the reintroduction site for flight school. The youngest chicks will start out by themselves at the west site, which can be seen from atop the public observation tower at the refuge.
Because the chicks have such a wide range of ages and development, the youngest were shipped from Patuxent about two weeks later than the first group. Transporting too early is dangerous to fragile young chicks with very long legs.
Training three separate cohorts is a lot of work for the piots, but it's the best way. (See the video to hear joe explain why.) When the cranes at one site finish their training session, the crew travels to the other sites to repeat the process with each of the other cohorts. Later, as the cranes begin to fly behind the ultralight, the trainers will slowly merge them into larger groups and let them work out their pecking order. The experts of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership want their crane chicks to work out their pecking order without too much actual pecking. They call this process socialization. The goal is to have one united flock just before migration--but it's up to the cranes!
Only one of the 17 chicks can fly yet, and that happened TODAY! Crane 303 got airborne on her own wings for her FIRST short and low flight. The others in her cohort will soon be airborne too.
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