6. Learning to Migrate
Unlike other birds, young Whooping cranes don't know by instinct where to migrate. They have to be taught!

Chicks in Captivity
The puppet (called robo-crane) encourages the chicks to accept the trike (a nickname for an Ultralight plane). The fence protects the chicks while they learn to follow the aircraft. As they grow, when they hear the trike coming near their pen, a handler lets them out. They jump and flap and charge down the grass after the plane. Finally they lift off and fly with it.

When they finally take off, the chicks (especially the lead ones) follow in a line behind the wing of the plane, which is the "lead bird."


Chicks in the Wild
Wild whooping cranes learn migration from their parents. Chicks spend most of the first year with them. Some leave their parents while on the wintering grounds. Others leave them on or soon after their first migration north.