Friday, April 8, 2011

Coloration and Development

It's that time of the year! The chicks are changing colors and becoming adult cranes. Their new official title is 'yearling.'

Here's where we left off in my last post about coloration:

PJ, whom we now call 19-10, was looking pretty white in October.

28-10 still had brown feathers in December (he was the youngest)
Before they lose all their brown feathers, the cranes start developing their black jaw markings and start losing the feathers on their heads. You can see he still has a light shading of brown on his neck and "tail," which is really the tertiary feathers of his wings:

19-10 at the end of march
Other cranes at this age may have more or less brown, and some may have started losing more feathers on their head to reveal the red patch:

25-10 End of March

A different view of 19-10

Ultralight Yearlings, 5-10 and 6-10, beginning of April

Ultralight Yearling, beginning of March
I'm not sure why the Ultralight birds are more white than the DAR birds, it might be because they are born up to a month earlier.

Here's some bonus video footage I shot while I was down at Chassahowitzka. The sound in this video is two-toned. The yearlings are making both a "peeping" noise that sounds like frogs AND a "grunting" noise that sounds like a big monster or an aggravated pig. The deeper noise develops as the large trachea elongates and penetrates the sternum of the birds. After the rings of the trachea fuse with the sternum, the whoopers are able to make their name-sake sound. It's awesome to hear in person and almost unbelievable.

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