All seven chicks in Operation Migration’s ultralight training program, as well as the single-surviving chick-in-the-wild, have recently fledged!
This milestone – where a bird finds its wings and flies – really flies, not just gets a little bit off the ground, but can cover 100 yards in the air without touching the ground – is exactly akin to the first unaided walk across the room of a human toddler; and it’s celebrated the same way by those who work with the whooping crane chicks.
Operation Migration announced Friday at the Field Journal and its Facebook page: “All seven young whooping cranes exited their enclosures and all seven took off with the aircraft,” some of them completing a full circuit, following OM pilot Joe Duff around the training area and returning to land on the runway with the ultralight.
Also Friday the International Crane Foundation posted to Facebook that the one surviving wild chick (of 13 hatched this year) of the Eastern Migratory Population, was observed August 1st “flying a short distance along a wetland dike.” The chick is designated “W3-14” (wild chick #3 of 2014).
While this is such an important development for all of these chicks, for the wild-born bird this is adds a new important safety measure to increase its survival chances: the all-important ability to fly away to safety from potential predators.
ICF’s 2014 Chicks Will Become Louisiana Whoopers Instead of DAR Birds
In other chick news from the ICF, 5 of the chicks hatched there this spring have been sent to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland where they will be socialized with chicks that hatched at Patuxent. The whole group will eventually be released into the new non-migratory flock that is being established in Louisiana.
As explained at ICF’s Facebook posting Monday, four of the chicks had been expected to be released here in Wisconsin as Direct Autumn Release chicks, but a decision was made that such a small number would not make for a successful DAR release. This will be the first year that ICF has not raised chicks for the DAR release program since that release method was first tried in 2005.