Skip to Main Content

...excercising, foraging and socialising....

Now all 24 little critters have hatched and the eldest are over three weeks old, everyone has really started to notice the development of individual characters in the chicks. There is a real difference between the smallest, being no taller than the top of our ankles, and the largest, reaching up to our knees!

At the moment a large part of our day is taken up by exercising the chicks, to ensure their proper muscle and bone development, but also to teach them about foraging and socialising. Each individual starts with 10 minute sessions twice a day, which then increases with age. The first walk for an individual are always slow to start with, a lot of standing still and looking around with their heads cocked to one side. I imagine there is an awful lot to take in for a small crane that has been used to a coop with a cosy heat lamp and a slightly darker environment. The sudden large space full of green sprouts of vegetation and new sounds must be a little overwhelming. However, it never takes long for the youngster to get used to it all and to start looking to us (dressed in crane attire) to follow.  It really is an amazing experience to have a little fluffy ball on legs running behind you, with its legs whizzing backwards and forwards and head bobbing up and down, totally depending on you for guidance.

As they get older they seem to become a bit more adventurous and start exploring for themselves, picking about for food on the ground, although usually keeping ‘mum’ in sight. One of my favourite parts is introducing them to swimming in the water channel. Each individual reacts differently to this, and as some take a few tentative steps into the cold flow and quickly step out again, others almost dive in, often slipping over and getting quite wet, sometimes enjoying a preen and a drink, or just looking quite shocked and jumping out shaking off the excess and running about cheeping loudly!

These sessions with the individuals really give us the chance to discover character traits, which range from timid to adventurous and from mischievous to downright aggressive! These factors are all considered once we start to think about socialising the birds, which we previously started from about 5 or 6 weeks old. However, we have been surprised this year by the speed at which they seem to be able to tolerate one another’s presence! At just over three weeks we have been able to take out two separate groups of four birds, and as long as we keep our eye on them and keep them moving, there are not too many fights to break up!

A few birds are already getting nicknames, one in particular being Minnie. We don’t know the sexes of the birds yet but everyone seems to think she is a girl! She is small for her age but makes up for it with her aggressive nature towards her siblings! We have realised she will take on any individual, even if it is three times her size, and usually succeeds in making them run a mile, or as far as they can get across the exercise yard anyway! With this in mind we have to keep a close eye on her if she is near any others, and keep attention focused on exploring, not fighting, until she gets a bit bigger and hopefully calms down!

I have so much I could tell you now there are so many birds developing so rapidly, but I will leave Roland to tell you more about some of the other work we are doing and individuals which are particularly noticeable - when he gets a minute!

 - Amy

%s1 / %s2