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Did you notice . . . ?

  • The puppet head looks like an adult Whooping crane. Handlers and pilots call this puppet Robo-crane. They use it to teach and encourage the chicks. After all, the birds "imprinted" on the puppet as soon as they hatched. Their instinct tells them to follow this parent!

  • Brooke steers the aircraft with his feet so his hands are free to operate the trigger that drops mealworm treats from Robo-crane's beak. This gives a chickanother good reason to follow the trike!
Hear Dan talk about using the Robo-crane:

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  • The "circle pen" is a big round pen that helps in early training. The fence protects chicks from the trike while they learn to follow it.

  • Did you see the black loudspeaker mounted on the frame of the trike? Recorded adult crane vocalizations are played over the speaker to communicate with the little birds. The message? "It's okay, follow me!"

  • The ultralight engine is loud, but the chicks are used to the noise. They've been hearing it since they were inside their eggs! Later, pilots will add the wing to the trike. The chicks get time to adjust to each change so they aren't afraid.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.