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Whooping Crane Kids: Learning Life's Lessons

Finding food

Chicks in Captivity
The handlers that care for the chicks spend many hours teaching the chicks how to eat. They also know that a crane's favorite color is red.

The costumed handler dips the bill of a crane puppet into a bowl of water, then into a dish of crane-crumbles. (The crumbles have everything a growing chick needs.) The crumbles stick to the puppet's bill and the chick pecks the food off the bill. Soon the chick will follow the puppet bill to the food or water. Next, it will wobble over to the dish to serve itself.

As the chicks grow, the handler and puppet lead them into their natural marshy habitat in search of food.

Chicks in the Wild
Even in the wild, whooper parents have to teach their chicks to eat and drink. Wild whooper parents catch food for their chicks and feed them all day long. But they don't eat crane crumbles!

During the summer, family groups spend their time in the shallows of small ponds and marshes. The parents gather foods such as dragonfly larvae, tadpoles, frogs, crickets, and bits of larger prey, such as snakes and mice, to feed to their young.

Next: Finding a safe place to roost

Photo Credits
Captive cranes: Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP)
Wild cranes: 1 & 3: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; 2: Brian Johns, Canadian Wildlife Service; 4: Diane Loyd