Back to Video Clip
The chick is still in its incubator after hatching when it gets the first lessons in eating. We play "marsh music" (sounds of the marsh, with singing birds, etc.) in the background to make it sound like a chick's natural habitat.
We get a bowl of crumbled food, a bowl of water and of course, the vocalizer to play the brood call. We sit down in front of the incubator and open the door. Then we reach in for the crane puppet that the new chick broods (rests) with. Red tape on the tip of the puppet's beak helps the chick see it better. The bit of red helps the chick focus and follow as we move the puppet and show the chick what to do.
This is what you saw in the video clip: We dip the puppet beak in water, then into the crumbles. Then we hold the beak in front of the chick. We hope the chick is able to focus and will open his beak so we can stick the puppet beak in. And we hope that more crumbles end up in the chick' mouth than on the carpet in the incubator.
The next step is putting the puppet beak in the bowl and hoping that as the chick pecks at it, he gets some food. We do the same thing with the water. We first allow the chick to sip drops of water from the puppet's bill, then try to guide him to the bowl.
After the chick has been moved to its pen, getting him to eat is more like a game of chase! We try to get the chick to follow the puppet to the food bowl. Some chicks learn this quickly and can eat on their own within three days. But other chicks need teaching for as long as five days.