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May 14, 2001

Catching On to Feeding

Feeding Lesson
Photo Courtesy
Operation Migration

Even in the wild, whooper parents have to teach their chicks to eat and drink. Wild whooper parents catch food for their chicks all day long.

Handlers don't have to catch the food, but they spend many hours patiently teaching the chicks how to eat. The costumed handler dips a crane puppet's bill into a bowl of water, then dips it into a crane-cumbles, a specially formulated, high protein food with everything a growing chick needs. The crumbles stick to the puppet's bill. The chick pecks the food off the bill, and eventually follows the bill to the food or water. It doesn't take long for the chick to realize where the food is, and soon it will wobble over to the dish to serve itself.

See a Chick Learning to Eat in this Video.

Why do you think the food bowl is red?

The chick in this video is only hours old. The puppet head is teaching the young chick to eat crane-cumbles. The puppet head plays a recording of a "contact call," communicating with the chick like a real crane would.

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

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