Whooping cranes 11-09 & 15-09* are two of the twenty cranes that made up the Class of 2009 aircraft-led cohort. With twenty cranes that year, the flock was split in half once we reached Florida; with ten going to St. Marks NWR and ten to the Chassahowitzka NWR.
Crane’s 11 & 15 were two that wintered at St. Marks and since then have returned to the area each winter – much to the delight of the locals: these two selected a roosting pond on the southeast edge of Tallahassee and occasionally share it with a herd of cattle, and various other water-roosting birds.
Each evening they arrive to spend the night and every morning they depart for a day of foraging but not before giving chase to either the cows, or the Canada geese.
Each spring they return to central Wisconsin and last year these 3 yr. old cranes constructed a nest – produced one egg which they began incubating on April 27th. Unfortunately, by May 6 the egg disappeared; likely a result of predation and not surprising given the parents were only 3 years old at the time. Let’s hope they have a bit more experience this nesting season.
Local Craniac and photographer Karen Willes recently shared the following images with us: