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April 12, 2002

First to Hatch!


Just hatched!
Photo Patuxent WRC
These whooping crane eggs show how life starts for some very special whooping crane chicks. The 18 whooping crane eggs for this special flock all hatched between April 12 and May 21, 200l. An average whooping crane egg is 102 mm long (4 inches) and weighs 208 grams (7 ounces). The average incubation period is 30 days. The newly hatched chicks are in a drawer-like incubator. This keeps them warm during the drying-out process and first few hours after hatching.

The chicks for each year's ultralight migration are numbered in order of hatching. This year's chicks are numbered with "HY 2002" for Hatch Year 2002, the
Watch a Whooping Crane

Recording and film clip courtesy Operation Migration


second hatch year for the new Eastern flock. This young flock reintroduces this endangered species to the eastern part of North America, where they vanished over a century ago.

Because whooping cranes are the most endangered of 17 crane species, each egg is precious. Captive whooping cranes at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Maryland, lay the eggs that will become the birds in the new Eastern flock. Three of the eggs were laid by captive whoopers at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin.

Try This! Links to Lessons and Journaling Questions

  • What is captive breeding, and why is it necessary? Find out and see some fun activities here:
  • Imagine being a chick inside the egg! It's dark and cramped, and hatching is hard work! Learn all about crane eggs and take an imaginary trip inside one with this great Journey North visualization and lesson:

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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