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June 12, 2002

The long-legged chicks traveled in special new containers, the right size to let them stand up safely.
Photo OM


Goodbye Patuxent, Hello Necedah

The oldest seven chicks of HY2002 take their first flight---INSIDE a plane. The gangly young cranes arrived via private jet at Wisconsin's Necedah National Wildlife Refuge today! A Wisconsin company generously donates their plane for this cause. X-rays were taken of each young bird while still in its container. Then an air-conditioned van drove the group (called a cohort) to their new pen on a secluded marsh. These oldest seven, which arrived today, will now be housed and trained at a part of the Refuge called site 2 (the West site).

The youngest ten chicks will stay at Patuxent for two more weeks. After they arrive, cranes numbered 9 through 13 will be housed and trained at site one. Cranes 14 through 17 will be at Necedah's new site 4. Eventually all of the birds will be merged into one flock in late summer. After that, they'll contnue flight training together. The cohorts are kept apart because their ages mean they'll learn at different rates, and also because they would fight if all were together at once. The crew will give the new arrivals a few days to get used to their surroundings before training starts again.

Normally chicks learn how to migrate from their parents, but that isn't possible for chicks hatched in captivity. Ultralight airplanes and people in special costumes will take over that job for these young cranes.

By the way. . .Last year's tiny pioneer flock of five whooping cranes are also back in Wisconsin, flying free again after an absence of over 100 years! They all touched their home base at Necedah, but have used at least five state wildlife wetland areas in an equal number of counties. These yearlings (the chicks from Hatch Year 2001) were the first endangered species to be taught a migration route by humans. Soon the 17 new HY2002 chicks will follow the air trail blazed in 2001 by these now-yearling cranes and the ultralight they followed.

Try This! Journaling Question

  • Cranes are territorial birds. The yearling cranes were trained on the same sites at Necedah where the new chicks arrived today. What predictions can you think of if the yearling cranes hang around the new chicks? Write your predictions and see what happens as our reports continue.

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

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