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April 26, 2003

Weighing In

A chick stands on its own at the age of two days. By four days of age, a chick has made progress! It can now stand up tall and walk well. The chick still stumbles sometimes, but its legs get stronger and steadier with every passing hour. Whooper chicks have very fluffy, dense downy coats. Later, their reddish cinnamon color gives way to a rust-and-white mottled look as the white feathers grow in.

There are good reasons why newly hatched chicks are weighed daily the first 7 days. Biologists can make sure they're not growing too fast, which results in their legs going out from under them. Chicks can't survive if that happens. Dehydration is also a danger. The vet gently pinches the skin on the hock and then releases it. If the skin stays pinched, it is a sign that the chick needs more fluids. If the skin bounces back to its normal state, it means the chick's fluid levels are fine.

The chick being coaxed onto the scale with yummy mealworms is 16 days old and not as gangly or fragile as the younger chicks. Click to enlarge and see how much the chick weighs.
crane02WCEP_016 crane02WCEP_002  
4-day-old chick
12-day-old chick
16-day-old chick
Patuxent WRC

Watch a Whooping Crane
Being Weighed

Video Operation Migration

Try This! Journaling Question

  • Why do you suppose the 12-day-old chick is being weighed in a box? (Look for a clue word in the text above.)
  • What other items weigh the same as a 16-day-old chick? (Click photo to enlarge and read the scale.)

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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