Rare African Crane Chicks Learning to Dance

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Two West African Black-Crowned Crane chicks were hatched, at Chester Zoo in the UK!  The babies are the first of their kind to arrive at the zoo this year.

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African cranes_1Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins

The chicks made their appearance at Chester Zoo in July.  Their father was born in 2002, and he was the first parent-reared West African Black-Crowned Crane to hatch at the zoo.  The proud mother of the new chicks was born in 1998.  The species is known to be monogamous, and the parents will remain a couple for life.  Preferring a habitat of wet grasslands, couples will build their nests together and take turns tending to the eggs for the 30 day incubation period.  Their co-parenting continues once the young hatch, as well. 

Curator of birds, Andrew Owen, said, “This is a very significant breeding, the first in the UK this year. Currently the chicks are small, yellow and fluffy and it’s hard to believe that they’ll grow up to look as striking and unusual as mum and dad. But soon enough, they’ll develop golden feathers on top of their heads that almost resemble a Roman helmet. Already the young are very confident and capable of foraging with their parents. Cranes are also known for their elaborate dances, and our young chicks are already capable of some nifty moves!”

According to the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as “Vulnerable”, due to recent surveys that have shown a rapid decline that is predicted to continue in the future. With just 15,000 estimated to be in the wild, the birds’ range spans from Senegal to Chad, but its habitat is under threat due to drainage, overgrazing and pesticide pollution. The capture and trade of the species is also having a dramatic effect on wild numbers.

Mr. Owen adds, “As well as suffering from habitat loss and poisoning by farmers, Black-Crowned Cranes are also caught and used as ‘guard dogs’. They are also disappearing as they hit newly installed overhead power lines. This all means that sadly, these birds are now very rare in the wild.”

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SeaWorld Orlando Now Caring for Orphaned Sandhill Crane Chick


SeaWorld Orlando’s Aviculture team recently received the first sandhill crane chick of the year -- an orphan, brought in by a concerned resident from St. Cloud, Fla.

Once SeaWorld’s veterinarians thoroughly examined the bird, it was determined to be in perfect health. However, at an estimated 3-4 days old at the time it was brought into SeaWorld’s care, it was simply too young to survive on its own. The chick was then paired with a rescued adult crane, in order to learn the specific crane behaviors essential for life in the wild.



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Photo credit: SeaWorld Orlando

While sometimes difficult for orphaned chicks to be tolerated by older cranes that are not familiar with them, the adult crane accepted the orphaned chick, which is now thriving. Eric Reece, SeaWorld’s Supervisor of Aviculture, adds, “The chick is doing fantastic. It’s eating on its own and gaining weight”.

It is the intent of SeaWorld’s Aviculture team to return both cranes to their natural habitat together once the chick has fledged, or grown the feathers necessary for flying.

SeaWorld's animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. So far in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando has taken in 11 rescued cranes.

African Crane Chicks First March Outside

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Two African crowned crane chicks were recently introduced to their outdoor habitat at the Virginia Zoo and are now accepting visitors.

"They hatched in late August, but we wait until they bulk up and are less vulnerable before putting them in the outdoor habitat," said zookeeper Dennis McNamara, who works on the team that cares for the chicks. He added that the chicks still spend the night indoors, and will continue to do so until they are nearly full grown.

Named for what appears to be a crown of golden pins on their head, which are actually modified feathers, African crowned cranes are native to the savannah south of the Sahara. The birds stand just over 3 feet tall and weigh nearly 8 pounds, with the males tending to be slightly larger. They feed on insects and other invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals and seeds.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for people to observe the chicks' transformation into the striking adult birds," said Greg Bockheim, the Zoo's executive director.

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Photo Credites: Winfield S. Danielson/Virgina Zoo

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Rare Crane Chick "Wattles" Onto the Scene


On the heels of spring’s arrival, a Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) chick hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo March 20, the third of its kind in the park’s history. National Zoo veterinarians examined the chick and took a blood sample when it was 4 days old, which they will use to determine its sex. Visitors can see the chick and its parents at the Crane Run, part of the Bird House’s outdoor exhibits.


Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Egg-citing Arrivals at Lincoln Children's Zoo

Nebraska's Lincoln Children’s Zoo announced the hatching of two rare birds on July 15. These East African Crowned Cranes chicks were the first babies for the two parents, mother Naivasha (Na-Vash-A) and father Nukuru (Na-KU-Roo). They arrived at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in the spring of 2007. You can tell the couple apart because Naivasha has additional red markings on her cheeks.



Photo Credits: Lincoln Children's Zoo

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Chick in Boots!

Born last week and standing a mere 4 and 1/2 inches (12 cm) tall in these photos, this tiny African Crowned Crane is being hand-reared by keepers at Paradise Park in the UK. Note that the little booties are in place to speed the process of unfurling the crane's naturally curled feet, and thereby helping it learn to toddle quicker. The chick's name is easy to remember - "Little Crane."




Curator David Woolcock explains “In the past, the female parent of this chick has not done very well when she has laid a clutch of eggs inside rather than outside her hut. So when this happened again, and with this species having been recently upgraded to ‘Vulnerable’ status, we made a decision to remove the eggs and incubate them ourselves. We were delighted when one hatched. So the keepers are now full time mums with 2 hourly feeds and giving some much needed tender loving care to this little one.”


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Chester Zoo Welcomes a Lanky Crane Chick

A mother West African Crowned Crane keeps a beady eye on her new charge as it takes its first steps at Chester Zoo. The little crane - which one day will grow up to look as unusual as its attentive mum - is the first to be bred in the UK.

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Female cranes can have up to five chicks in one go, but mum seems perfectly content to take just one under her wing. (On an noneducational note... crane chicks look like dinosaur chickens to us)