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Bachelor Flock: A group of young cranes which stays together until they pair and begin breeding.
Band: Identification “bracelet” used on birds. ICF fastens an aluminum band with an identification number just above the hock (ankle) joint on all captive birds.
Brailing: Placing a strap on a bird’s wing to prevent flight.
Clipping: Cutting the primary (flight) feathers from one wing to prevent flight. ICF clips most of its birds. Clipping discourages normal copulation, however, because it makes it more difficult for the male to balance on the back of the female.
Clutch: The eggs laid by a female in a single nesting. In the wild, cranes usually lay a two-egg clutch.
Coverts: The small feathers which overlie the base of the flight feathers.
Crane City: A series of pens and houses built on the far northeast corner of the property. Construction costs were about $10,000 per pen. The structures in Crane City include approximately 65 crane pens and a quarantine unit. Crane City is our breeding unit, and is off limits to the public.
DMZ: Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. A no-man’s land where wintering cranes find suitable winter habitat and are undisturbed by human presence.
Egg Tooth: A whitish, horny tubercle near the tip of the upper mandible of a bird embryo. It is used to break the eggshell during hatching, and is cast off shortly after the chick emerges.
Egg Transfer: The process of removing one of two eggs from nests in the wild, and transferring them to a captive breeding center for hatching.
Extirpation: The disappearance of a species from a certain region. “Extinction” is the complete disappearance of a species from all regions.
Fledging: Acquiring the feathers necessary for flight. The process is completed at about three months of age in cranes.
Hock: This is a joint equivalent to our ankle. From the hock down, is the “foot” of the crane. They walk on what is equivalent to our toes.
Hybrid: When two different species mate, a hybrid results. ICF has produced hybrids experimentally in the past, but does not hybridize cranes regularly. Formation of hybrids in the wild is extremely rare.
Imprinting: Rapid learning commonly found in ground-nesting birds. Chicks fix, or imprint, on the first object they see and hear after hatching – usually their parent. In some cases, imprinting also establishes a species identity, mating preferences, and habitat preferences.
Incubation: This means keeping eggs warm and moist until they hatch. “Brooding” means keeping the chicks warm and dry.
Mandible: The beak, formed by an extension of a skull bone combined with a horny substance called keratin. There are upper and lower mandibles.
Molt: Renewal of plumage in birds, which usually occurs once a year. Cranes molt in midsummer, after the breeding season.
Nares: Nostrils found on the upper mandible.
Nest Exchange: Adults changing places on the nest during the incubation period.
Pellets: Crane food, comprised of soy, alfalfa, fish, corn meal, and vitamin supplements. ICF purchases two types of pellets: maintenance/breeder and starter, which is used for chicks. The two pellet types have different ingredient ratios, each developed to meet the needs of cranes in different stages of development and activity.
Primaries: Thin feathers, 10-12 inches long, growing from the “hand” of the wing. They are used in forward propulsion during flight.
Pipping: Occurs when a chick inside the egg breaks a small hole in the shell, and begins to breathe fresh air from the outside. Pipping is preceded by internal pipping, when the chick breaks the membrane of the air cell and starts to breathe with its lungs.
Pinioning: An operation to remove the hand part of the wing, which permanently prevents a bird from flying. Pinioning is still a common practice at zoos all over the world. ICF does not pinion birds – we prefer to clip them – but many of ICF’s cranes on loan from zoos are pinioned.
Precocial: A term describing a bird which hatches with down feathers, open eyes, and the ability to leave the nest within minutes or hours after hatching. Most ground-nesting birds, including cranes, are precocial – an adaptation which serves to reduce losses to predators. “Altricial” chicks are those which are naked and helpless when they hatch.
Secondaries: Feathers attached to the “forearm” of the wing inside the primaries. They are shorter and broader than primaries, and are used in soaring and braking.
Sedge: A group of cranes.
Species: The fundamental biological classification consisting of very similar plants or animals.
Staging Ground: A stopover place for migrating birds, used for resting and feeding.
Tarsus: The part of the leg above the hock. It is equivalent to our shin.
Taxonomy: The arrangement and classification of animals into similar groups.
Tertials: Feathers attached to the “upper arm” of the wing, closest to the body. In cranes, the tertials are often modified for display. When the wings are folded, the tertials look like long tail feathers. The “bustle” on the Eurasian crane consists of tertials.
Territory: An area defended by a pair of cranes during nesting. The territory size ranges from three to 250 acres.
Threat Display: A behavior displayed when a bird is threatened by predators or intruding cranes. Threats can consist of wing spreading, preening, arching, calling, and fluffing feathers.
Unison Call: An antiphonal territorial call given by mated pairs of cranes. During the unison call, the female and male usually have different vocalizations and postures.