3. Finding Food

Chicks in Captivity
The handlers that care for the chicks spend many hours teaching them how to eat. They also know that a crane's favorite color is red.

The costumed handler dips the bill of a crane puppet into a bowl of water, then into a dish of crane-crumbles. (The crumbles contain everything a growing chick needs.) The crumbles stick to the puppet's wet bill and the chick pecks the food off the bill. Soon the chick will follow the puppet bill to the food or water. Next, it will wobble over to the dish to serve itself.

As the chicks grow, the handler and puppet lead them into their natural marshy habitat to find food.

Chicks in the Wild
Even in the wild, whooper parents must teach their chicks to eat and drink. Wild whooper parents catch food for their chicks and feed them all day long. But wild chicks don't eat crane crumbles!

During the summer, family groups spend their time in the shallows of small ponds and marshes. The parents gather foods to feed to their young. Dragonfly larvae, tadpoles, frogs, crickets, and bits of larger prey, such as snakes and mice, are some of these foods.