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Countdown to Migration: September 16, 2005

Chick Chat: Three Big Events for Whooper Chicks
Two migration milestones happened this week! On September 13, Cohorts 2 and 3 were joined into one pen. On September 15, they all flew together as a single group for the first time! Mark was delighted to report a good flight. “The birds were super, super excited to come out of the pen. They flew well and it’s no big deal that two of them turned back early because they don’t have the strength of the others. We kept it short—about five minutes—because it was going so well and we wanted to stop on a high note.”

That’s the good news. The third event is the bad news. The team was shocked and saddened when chick #515 died from a training accident on Monday.

August 23: The youngest birds (Cohort 3) are learning to fly.

Photo Operation Migration.

Update Your Training Timeline!
You can add the week's big events above to your own timeline for this year's flock. Milestones and key events (some with photos) for the newest members of the Eastern flock are listed here:

Meet the Flock: Getting to Know the Cranes
Would you like to know the latest on each chick? We've updated their life history pages. Find your favorite chick's biography here:
Crane Quiz #2
While you're on the biography pages, find the answers to these questions:

1. Which chick is "Boss" in the newly-joined Cohorts 2 and 3?

2. What might have been a reason for Chick #515’s accident?

3. Which chick has trouble coming out of the pen because he's scared by the commotion when the gates are opened and the chicks charge out after the trike?

4. Which two chicks are grappling for the Number Two spot in the big Cohort 2/3?

Fun With the Chicks: Grass-cutting Day
Share Angie’s story about a recent grass-cutting day as a great teaser for this week's booklet about how the chicks are raised and trained.

Angie (in costume) waits with 7 chicks while their airstrip is mowed.
Photo OM
“Just like in your yard, grass grows fast on the runways and inside the bird pens. To cut the grass, the team has to get the birds out of the area before they can bring in the noisy mowers and weed-eaters. So, Mark, Robert and I led the birds down the length of the runway. (Actually, most of them flew to the end of the runway after flying in circles for a bit.) Then we walked them through an area of high grass, over a small rise and down to the edge of the water, out of sight of the pen and the runway.

“After getting the birds to the water, Mark went back to help Joe and Chris with the mowing. Robert and I kept an eye on the 7 crane chicks. We included the usual foraging and following practice, but mostly we let the birds entertain themselves and each other. Chick #524 took a nice long bath in the cool water. Another bird found the rear half of a dead mouse and had a great time throwing it around and playing with it. Two of the chicks engaged in some jump-and-flap play near Robert, and one of them actually bounced off of his chest with both feet. It's sometimes hard on this job to keep from laughing out loud while in costume, but we somehow managed to hold to our vow of silence.

“Two hours later, the site was all clear and we could bring the birds back. Robert and I led them back the way we came. Back on the grass runway, the cranes kept stopping to forage on the insects that the mowers had stirred up. They also resisted going back into the pen, which they have been doing a lot lately. But we eventually got all the birds back in, and are now looking forward to repeating the process when we mow the other 2 sites. Joe Duff says mowing day is the most fun we get to have with the birds, and it really is!”

This Week's Booklet: "Who Am I? Imprinting"
Why the vow of silence? Why can’t the chicks be present when the grass is cut? Why does everyone within chick sight cover up with baggy white sacks? Why do the chicks follow the trike like it's a parent? Find answers in the second kids’ booklet in our series of. The booklets come in .pdf format, ready to print, fold, and enjoy. You'll also find links to the Teacher Guide and a booklet slide-show format on the Web:
Countdown to Migration: Posted Every Friday
E-mail Summaries are posted to registered participants on FRIDAYS: Sep 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Oct 7, 14, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11, 18, 25. . .or until this year's newest Eastern whooping crane chicks reach their winter home in Florida!

Pre-migration: Each Friday, a brief e-mail notice gives current newsy tidbits and announces a downloadable booklet for building background.

During migration: When migration begins, the Friday e-mails will summarize the Highlight Updates (complete with latest maps, facts, photos, and fun) that were posted daily on the Web during the week.

See You Next Friday, September 23!

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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