Whooping cranes are big, rare birds
that lived on the earth long before people. They nearly became extinct in the early part of the 20th century when people hunted them for meat and collected their eggs and feathers. Now the main threat to cranes is loss of wetlands, where they live and breed.
Make Like a Crane
Today scientists are trying some very funny and imaginative ways to save the cranes. People who handle the birds must dress up in crane costumes. Wearing a stuffed crane head and neck on their hand and arm, they feed the cranes by hand.
Cranes learn by following the leader. To learn to migrate as their ancestors did, cranes follow an ultra light plane 1,250 miles from Wisconsin to Florida. To teach the birds to follow the airplane, pilots dress up in crane costumes. The crane chicks hear the airplane noise before and after they hatch, so that they become comfortable with it. When they are ready to fly, they follow the planes anywhere.
Things Kids Can Do to Save Cranes
Can You Walk Like a Crane?
Cranes appear to be able to bend backwards at their knees.
What appears to be their knee is really their ankle. Cranes perform elaborate dances as one way of communicating with other cranes. One way they dance is by strutting or high stepping as they flap their wings about and bob their head up and down. Can you strut like a crane?
Want to Know More?
Check out this cool website www.savingcranes.org/kids for more activities, art contests, facts and things you can do to save cranes.
Make a Crane Puppet
Take an old white sock. Put it over one hand and arm. Use a marker to draw yellow eyes, a red forehead and black cheeks. With your hand still in the sock, hold a spring type clothes pin where the bill belongs. Hold it so that you can pinch it open and closed. Glue it in place and let it dry well.
Practice being a crane handler by using the crane puppet to feed meal worms, spiders, crabs, salamanders or roots into the mouth of your best friend.
Friday, November 2
Leaves w/Fingers & Teeth - Today or tomorrow, learn how leaves come in so many shapes, colors and sizes, then make a beautiful leaf picture to take home. Ages 2-3 (w/adult). 10-10:30am @ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Prince Frederick. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Saturday, November 3
Pollution Solution - Discover how a chemical spill would effect a river, what it would take to clean it up and how to prevent pollution. Ages 8-12. free; rsvp: 301/497-5887.
Tuesday, November 6
Whos Hooting? - Listen to the story of one noisy baby owl who keeps everyone awake in the big tree in Hush-a-bye-Babies. Make your own owl to take home. 10am @ Barnes & Noble, Annapolis. free: 410/573-1115.
Yule Be Wiggling - Learn how to do the Monkey Dance w/the most popular Australian childrens entertainment group, The Wiggles. Wiggle to Murrays Christmas Samba, learn a toe-tapping jig to A Scottish Christmas and do a jolly dance w/Santa in The Christmas Polka. Holiday antics also include Wags the Dog, Dorothy the Dinosaur and more. 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm @ Chesapeake Music Hall, Annapolis. $15; rsvp: 800/965-4827.
Wednesday, November 7
Oh! Possum - Touch a possums fur and find out what its up to while everyone else is sleeping. Ages 3-5. 10-11am, 2-3pm @ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Prince Frederick. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Thursday, November 8
Feast for the Birds - Make three different treats for the birds in your garden using various fruits, seeds and pine cones. Ages 3-10 (w/adult). 10:30am @ Lobby Conference Rm., Tawes Bldg., Annapolis. free: 410/260-8189.