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Getting Fit Feathers
Notice the feathers sticking up. A crane is normally sleek, and only has "bad hair days" when it is molting — shedding old feathers so new feathers can grow and replace them. Feathers get worn out on the crane's long migrations. Strong, new feathers will be important to help the crane make the journey south in autumn. The new feathers must last through winter and the crane's journey north to the nesting grounds in spring. The crane doesn't need the strong flight feathers as much in summer, when it may be busy tending its flightless new chick on the ground for several weeks.

Why is molting a dangerous time for Whooping cranes? What clues about the molting season does the photo show us?

Vickie Henderson

Whooping crane in process of molting

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