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Clarence takes his first steps

As you’ll have gathered from Amy’s blog, things are now settling into a routine at the crane centre with the youngsters growing nicely, some faster than others. What is becoming very evident now is that they are all starting to develop their own unique personalities. After working most recently cirl buntings, this has been quite an eye opener, as the cirls especially, being low down on the food chain were very cute but were generally like peas in a pod.

The cranes however are a completely different kettle of fish. Unlike the cirls, they are slow to mature and breed and are all developing their own distinctive personalities. Literally these range from; nervous and timid through to bold and curious and although their supposed to be really aggressive towards their siblings in the first few weeks, some are surprisingly laid back. That isn’t the case with all of them however, and you’ll be pleased to know that some of them live up to their reputations, having personalities bordering on the psychotic when it comes to the other residents of the rearing facility. You may wonder why one bird would be so obsessed with trying to kill its sibling, however, it is quite a common trait amongst birds where there is a chance that there is only enough food to rear one youngster properly. In other words if both youngsters were alive in the wild, there would be a chance that neither would survive, so this is the best option for the survival of the species. Fortunately for us and the cranes, the aggressive tendencies start to subside from about three weeks of age, and by six weeks these aggressive urges will / should have died down even with the most aggressive of chicks and they should all be happily mixing together (we hope).  

You have already been introduced to Minnie who as you have been told was born devoid of the fear gene and if no other crane is present, she is quite prepared to pick a fight with her own shadow or even the false crane head that she’s supposed to be imprinting on.  At the other end of the scale however, is Clarence.

Now whilst Minnie is one of our smallest cranes, Clarence is however by a long shot our largest, strongest and arguably most handsome of crane chicks. Unfortunately he is most certainly not our bravest, being decidedly agoraphobic and although being are second oldest crane. He only summoned the courage to leave his run and enter the main exercise area about a week and a half ago. This was not through any lack of effort on the part of me and Amy, and getting Clarence to leave his run has probably taken up more crane mum and dad hours than any other crane so far. The importance of this cannot be understated as exercising the young chicks is as important as the diet itself. Although they are slow to mature, young chicks grow very quickly (about 1cm at the peak growing period), therefore there are a lot potential leg problems, if the balance is not , maintained correctly.

All the initial worries are now history; just like Clarence’s initial and quire irrational fear of water (at least he managed to drink the stuff), and now he is coming on in leaps and bounds and over the last couple of days we’ve been introducing him to the rest of his cohort, although it still looks bizarre to see him running like the clappers whilst being chased by a crane chick half his size. Although in reality it’s probably quite fortunate that he hasn’t realized his own strength as if he was aggressive, we’d have had a hell of a time trying to integrate him with the rest of the group.      

- Roland

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