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September 2, 2003

Watch Them Flying High!

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Clip: Ultralight and Chicks in Flight!
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Training continues as the colts (that's another name for young Whooping cranes) learn to fly together and build up their endurance. You'll love this video clip (see right) because it puts you right on the observation tower to watch morning training. The clip was taken Aug. 23 when seven cranes were training together before they were all combined into one cohort. You'll see their silhouettes coming at you from the distance against the dawn sky.
Near the end of the clip, you can faintly hear the ultralight engine and also the contact call being broadcast by the ultralight's mp3 player. The recorded call tells the cranes: Come along! Follow me!
The pilots play the recorded contact call often. That's how the plane/parent "talks to" the cranes in their own language.

The training routine is the same each day they fly. A costumed handler enters the enclosure to retrieve the young birds from the wet section where they had roosted the night before. A pilot flies the ultralight from the nearby Necedah Airport and taxies into position outside the enclosure's main gate. The handler then opens the main gate and the birds rush onto the training strip and take off after the aircraft. Sometimes the birds are off the ground before the ultralight. When the cranes get advanced in their training, the big thrill is the "air pickup." That means the pilot simply flies low past the enclosure and the cranes stampede out and take off after him!


Try This! Journaling Question
  • Read how two experts explain roosting. Write a paragraph that explains what roosting is and why water roosting is important. Write a good topic sentence and include 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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