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Whooping Crane Kids: Learning Life's Lessons

Knowing Your Place in the Group

Cranes are aggressive birds! Each youngster comes to know its place: that is, who it can "boss around" and who bosses it around!

Chicks in Captivity
These chicks live in a big flock and are taught to accept the many other baby cranes who are not related to them.
There's plenty of food for all of them, but they still need to sort out who's top dog — or rather, top bird. As soon as every chick knows exactly where it fits in the "pecking order" — from the least to most dominant — there is no need for fighting when a conflict comes up.

Chicks in the Wild
Chicks in the wild don't hang out in big groups. They may have one sibling. If they do, there's still a pecking order! If two baby cranes in a nest survive hatching, the larger one — which was born first will kill or dominate the other. If the smaller one lives, it knows to stay out of the way of its sibling!

Me First: Whooping Crane Pecking Order >>

Dominant or Submissive: Leader or Follower >>

Next: Learning to Migrate

Photo Credits
Captive cranes: Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP)
Lower left: USGS
Lower right: Diane Loyd