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crane school

Forming cohorts and tussling with plantain

A short video taken last week of Amy with three of the cranes B3, B4 and B5, starting to form a stable cohort.

Chick B3 (nicknamed Charlie) is the one in the water.  He/She is quite a water baby!

Below is a short video taken on the same day of Chick C5 trying to eat one of the plantain seed heads.... giving up, and going foraging instead.

Fluff balls with fabulous ear tufts

  Wonderful photo taken by Marie-Ann D'Aloia, working for the project at the Crane School rearing facility this spring - Thanks Marie-Ann!

Fluffy crane chick-flicks

Here's a short video of Amy walking 'Swampy' last week.  The chicks need regular excercise and are walked at least twice a day at this stage, but walked individually, as they exhibit a lot of natural aggression to each other and need to be kept apart.  Its amazing that they turn into such a sociable bird!

More baby cranes

 Chick 31 (White Blue)

Sex determination

This week we had to take blood from the birds to test for various diseases, which thankfully they are clear of. This also gave us the chance to take a feather sample from each to send away for sex determination. If we do not test for this we will not be able to tell male from female until they start to breed at around 4 years old, the birds are not sexually dimorphic so both sexes look the same. The results came back today and we have 13 females and 9 males! This is an excellent ratio and we are really pleased.

Flights

close up view of the crane feathers

This week has been an exciting time for us as we have seen the first flights from the eldest birds! The plumage has rapidly been developing from fluffy down into sleek waterproof feathers making the juveniles very handsome birds to look at. In this close-up you can see the last of the gingery down amongst newly developed feathers.

A lot can change in the space of a few weeks

Well perhaps I shouldn’t have spoken so soon, the reign of Clarence as number one crane was rather short lived to say the least! After about a week and once both cohorts were relatively peaceful, or a peaceful as can be considering the inhabitants are all young cranes with occasional penchants for rather violent behaviour to each other.

Pansy

Another character in the group has been our chick colour banded ‘red/black’ who has obtained the nickname 'Pansy'. This bird has found each step in the growing up process a challenge and it took a while to get it self feeding. Eventually it plucked up the courage to explore the grassy enclosure outside where we at once discovered it was afraid of water! So much so that when it came across a puddle it would run away cheeping! It didn’t inspire us with confidence being as it’s a wetland species!

Clarence and Gemma

Clarence and Gemma cranes

Since the smaller cohorts, a group of up to six birds, have merged into one big group of twenty-two the birds have constantly been surprising us with daily changes in their group dynamics and displays of unusual behaviour.

Growing fast and forming groups

Over the last couple of weeks things, things are changing at an incredible rate, it never fails to amaze me how much the birds have grown after a couple of days off. We now have the birds exercising in two cohorts, this is so much better as we can now devote the necessary time to the birds, with the added advantage than in their cohorts they'll be imprinting on each other and not the bizarre grey shapes that have been taking them for walks and feeding them.