August: Exploring and Preparing
By August the wild chicks are still close to parents, but have grown their juvenile plumage. No longer soft and fuzzy, the new body feathers blend better with surroundings as the youngsters explore. Predators will notice the stark-white parents first, leaving the still-flightless babies safer. The chick's feathers also show other cranes that this is only a youngster, and they cut him some slack instead of chasing him off. The captive-bred ultralight chicks in the eastern flock are flapping and chasing in "flight school" with an ultralight airplane and pilots — their substitute parents. All the growing chicks, now called "colts," need time to learn lessons and prepare for migration.