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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.

close up view of the crane feathers

The following two pictures show the same bird (nicknamed 'Chris'), firstly with newly emerging feathers followed by a picture of it showing how it has developed into a full winged juvenile!

wing growth on Chris the crane

Chris the crane stretching his wings

As their primary feathers emerged we started to witness many amusing looking leaps across the water channel. Another favourite activity is running along whilst stringing together clumsy jumps with much flapping of wings! The wingspan never ceases to amaze me as one minute the birds can look quite small and slender, then when they suddenly open their wings they look huge! With a wingspan of around two metres it’s pretty impressive! On one of the windy days this week chick ‘Red Left’ finally took off and flew across the enclosure before landing clumsily but seemingly excited. This set all the others off creating a frenzy of legs and wings about the enclosure!
The smallest birds have still not grown all their primaries and keep trying to copy the eldest but so far have only managed large leaps. I am sure it will not be long before they catch up and we have twenty-two flying youngsters!

I have taken a video of one of the first flights of 'Red Left' as he flies past me. More recently he has been gaining a lot more height and looking more controlled, with others often joining in.

Here is a picture of one of the birds enjoying the windy weather which helps them to get good lift from the ground:

Gilbert taking off

- Amy

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