16!

PWRC #23, a female, foraging in the pond pen where she lives at Patuxent.
It's pretty much impossible to get all 16 chicks in one picture but I see 10 of them in this one.
Notice their feather coloration, the bird in front has little brown left but the bird on the left is still quite brown.
9 of the LA 2011 cohort.

I don’t know where the time has gone but it’s flown by; in less than one month we are scheduled to get our next group of whooping cranes for release, the 2011 cohort!  It’s been a while since I last wrote about the chicks being raised for us at Patuxent (PWRC) and while a few things have changed mostly the chicks have just gotten bigger and whiter!!  A few birds didn’t make it and the genetic holdbacks have been pulled from the group leaving us with 16 birds. 

Early in the spring we requested that the birds all be socialized into one large group at PWRC prior to arriving in LA.  This was a daunting task for the PWRC staff but one they were willing to try and as a result of their hard work and patience all 16 chicks have been living together as one group for the last few weeks.  While everything is fine now it was a slow and difficult process at times, getting small groups of birds to live together and then live next to another group of birds before ultimately putting those two groups together and then repeating with the next group.  And of course there’s always one bird who is especially challenging and in this group it was a male in the middle of the age range, PWRC #24.  He lived by himself for a long time because according to the PWRC staff “he didn’t play nice with others”.  This is where the great knowledge and experience of the PWRC staff as well as their patience and persistence come in.  They had to continuously try the aggressive male with different combinations and groups of birds, sometimes the oldest and largest, hoping someone would put him in his place.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t; often you just have to wait for these birds to calm down and grow out of their aggressive stage and through some combination of all of these that bird was finally able to be incorporated into the group.  We’re thrilled to be getting 16 birds and are looking forward to their arrival at the end of the month.  

All photos provided by Jane Chandler from Patuxent.  Thanks Jane!

Update written by Sara Zimorski