Crane

Woodland Park Zoo Celebrates Crane Hatchlings

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For the first time in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history, a pair of White-naped Cranes successfully hatched. The chicks emerged July 9 and 10 and are the first offspring for 8-year-old mom, Laura, and 9-year-old dad, Cal. The sex of the unnamed chicks has not yet been determined.

The Seattle, WA zoo has had White-naped Cranes for around 30 years, but none successfully produced offspring until now. The new parents have been at the zoo for five years.

“This is such a significant hatching and a symbol of hope for the vulnerable species,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The successful breeding and hatching are attributed to the bond between the parents, the quality of their habitat, and the expert day-to-day care and dedication provided by our animal keepers. We’re very proud of our team and our new parents.”

According to Myers, cranes are monogamous and can be very picky when choosing a mate: “Even the slightest incompatibility between two birds can prevent successful breeding; they will only breed once a strong pair bond is formed between them. Even then, it can take several years to solidify that bond,” explained Myers.

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Photo Credits: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Parents Cal and Laura were paired on a recommendation from the White-naped Crane Species Survival Plan, a cooperative conservation-breeding program to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of White-naped Cranes in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. There are currently fewer than 75 White-naped Cranes in the program. This successful hatching has augmented the numbers of this long-lived species.

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Grey Crowned-crane Chick Makes Debut

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A Grey Crowned-crane, which hatched at the National Aviary on July 27, made its public debut last week. The fluffy chick strutted around the historic National Aviary Rose Garden for visitors, stretching its long legs during one of its multiple daily walks. The daily walks provide the chick with opportunities to stretch its growing legs and prepare it for its role as an educational ambassador for its species.

“The hatching of our new Grey Crowned-crane chick is an exciting opportunity for visitors to experience what we at the National Aviary see every day: birds growing and thriving. Visitors can watch this chick grow up right before their eyes,” said Cathy Schlott, Curator of Behavioral Management and Education at the National Aviary. “The fact that Grey Crowned-cranes are endangered makes this little one even more special!”

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Grey Crowned-cranes (Balearica regulorum) are one of the most recognizable crane species, noted for their elaborate golden-yellow plumage resembling a crown on their heads. Cranes are precocial birds, and begin walking and exploring their world within hours of hatching.

The crane chick is being hand-raised by experts at the National Aviary, where it will live behind the scenes and become an educational ambassador for its species. Visitors to the National Aviary will be able to meet the crane and learn about the species. Grey Crowned-cranes are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with fewer than 25,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Native to the wetlands and grasslands of Eastern and Southern Africa, the species faces declining numbers due to habitat loss and overuse of pesticides.

The National Aviary’s new chick weighed 87 grams when it hatched, and was about the size of a large pear, and is growing rapidly. Recently, it weighed 183 grams, about a half a pound. In just three months, the downy tan chick will reach its full adult size of over three feet tall, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. In about 18 months, the chick will have full adult plumage, and will be a striking gray with red, black, and white features. A feather DNA test will determine the sex of the chick.


Jacksonville Zoo's Cranes Raise Adopted Chick

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Keepers at Jacksonville Zoo recently discovered the egg their Wattled Cranes were sitting on was not fertilized. They contacted their friends at White Oak Conservation for assistance. White Oak happened to have a pair of Wattled Cranes who laid an extra egg.

The average clutch size of the Wattled Crane is thought to be the smallest of any of the world's cranes. Generally, in a nest of two or more eggs, only one chick will survive to hatch or fledge. Therefore, removing the extra egg was a possible ‘saving grace’ for the chick inside.

As a first step, keepers at Jacksonville Zoo decided to swap out the non-viable egg from their nest to a dummy egg, until they knew White Oak’s extra egg was close to hatching. When that time came, keepers at Jacksonville placed the egg in their birds’ nest. The egg hatched on March 5th, and they now have a healthy male chick!

The cranes are raising the ‘adopted’ chick as their own, and visitors to Jacksonville Zoo can see the new family at the African Boardwalk exhibit!

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The Wattled Crane (Grus carunculata) is a large bird found in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.

It is the largest crane in Africa, at a height of up to 175 cm (5.74 ft) and is the second tallest species of crane, after the Sarus Crane. The wingspan is 230–260 cm (7.5–8.5 ft), the length is typically 120 cm (3.9 ft) and weight is 6.4–7.9 kg (14–17 lb) in females, 7.5–9 kg (17–20 lb) in males.

The Wattled Crane is native to eleven sub-Saharan countries in Africa, including an isolated population in the highlands of Ethiopia. More than half of the world’s Wattled Cranes occur in Zambia, but the single largest concentration occurs in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.

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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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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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)