Whooping Crane Update, 1 September – 14 November 2013

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 108 birds (58 males and 50 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period or last record included 29 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, 5 in Illinois, 21 in Indiana, 2 in Tennessee, 5 in Kentucky, 2 in Alabama, 35 at unknown locations on migration, 3 not recently reported, 2 presumed dead, and 2 long term missing.

Mortalities

The deaths of male and female wild-hatched chicks nos. W1-12 and W8-12 were discovered during an aerial tracking flight on 2 October on state wildlife property near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Their heavily scavenged remains were collected on 2 and 3 October respectively.

The fully intact carcass of female parent-reared juvenile no. 21-13 was collected on the shoulder of a public road through the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on 2 October.

The scavenged remains of female parent-reared juvenile no. 20-13 were collected on 15 October on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Her death was discovered during an aerial tracking flight the previous day.

Wild-hatched female no. W1-10 died in captivity on the night of 2 November despite efforts to rehabilitate her. She had been discovered injured on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on 9 September during an aerial tracking flight.

The remains of Direct Autumn Release juvenile male no. 53-13 were discovered on the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge on 13 November. Death had occurred the previous night.

Suspected Mortalities

Male no. 5-05 and female no. 22-07 (both with nonfunctional transmitters) are suspected dead but are still included in the population totals above. No. 22-07’s mate has been observed on their previous wintering territory in Gibson County, Indiana, alone.

Injuries

No. W1-10 was reported with an injury on 9 September. She was captured on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on 12 September and transported to the International Crane Foundation. She had sustained wounds on her left foot and her lower right leg. Despite rehabilitation efforts, she succumbed to internal injuries from an unknown cause (see above).

Direct Autumn Release juvenile male no. 55-13 sustained a leg injury from an unknown source. He was captured for examination on 6 November. There was no obvious cause of the injury and he was re-released at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge the next day. The issue has since resolved itself.

2012 Cohort

Direct Autumn Release (DAR)

No. 14-12 remained in Lenawee County, Michigan through at least 31 August. He was not detected there on 17 or 19 September. He was next reported in Jackson County, Michigan on 28 October.

No. 15-12 was reported possibly leaving on migration with sandhill cranes from Hendry County, Florida, in late February or early March. No subsequent reports (see below).

No. 16-12 remained with sandhills in Dodge County, Wisconsin, until moving to Columbia County by 6 September where he remains.

Ultralight (UL)

Nos. 4-12 and 5-12 remained in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, through at least 2 October. They were not found during an aerial tracking flight on 8 November.

No. 7-12 was reported in Waushara County, Wisconsin, by 16 August. She remained in the county through at least 19 September but used a couple different locations. She was relocated in Winnebago County on 2 October where she remains.

No. 11-12 left the St. Marks NWR pensite in Wakulla County, Florida, on 9 February.  No subsequent reports (see below).

2013 Cohort 

DAR

Nine DAR juveniles received their permanent colored leg bands and transmitters on 26 September. They were released on the evening of 24 October at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Dodge County, Wisconsin. One juvenile sustained a minor leg injury and another (no. 53-13) was discovered dead on 13 November (see above). Eight juveniles remain in the area.

UL

Eight juveniles in the ultralight-led cohort departed from the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 2 October. They are currently located at their ninth stopover location in Cumberland County, Illinois.

Wild-hatched

Female no. W3-13 was captured for banding on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on 31 October. She departed south with her parents, nos. 9-03 and 3-04, on 10 November. They were reported in Woodland County, Illinois, the following day.

Parent reared (PR)

Four parent reared juveniles were transferred from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin on 19 September. They received their permanent colored leg bands and transmitters on 20 September and were released individually on the territories of breeding adult pairs on 23-25 September.

Nos. 20-13 and 21-13 were killed shortly after release (see mortality section).

No. 22-13 was often seen in a field adjacent to the refuge near adult pair nos. 11-09 and 15-09 and sandhill cranes. He left the refuge and was observed with sandhill cranes in Adams County, Wisconsin, on 23 October. He moved to the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area vicinity, Green Lake County, Wisconsin by 28 October. Satellite reading placed him at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin, by the night of 8 November where he was seen associating with the Direct Autumn Release juveniles the next day. He departed to Laporte County, Indiana, on 9/10 November and remains at this location.

No. 24-13 immediately joined breeding pair nos. 2-04 and 8-09 upon release from his temporary pen. The group moved to Sauk County, Wisconsin, on 21 October and left on migration from that location on 10 November. Satellite readings placed them in Jasper County, Illinois, on 11 November and at the adults previous wintering location in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 13 November.

No recent reports

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April.

Female no. 11-12 left the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge pensite in Wakulla County, Florida, on 9 February.

Male no. 15-12 was last reported possibly leaving on migration with sandhill cranes from Hendry County, Florida, in late February or early March.

Long Term Missing

Male no. 12-07 was last observed on the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on 25 April 2012. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Female no. 16-10 was last observed with sandhill cranes in Ottawa County, Michigan, on 6 May 2012.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.  To access our previous project updates and additional information on the project visit our web site at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/.

We thank pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan (Wisconsin DNR) for aerial tracking assistance.

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3 Comments

  1. Karen Anne November 18, 2013 5:27 pm

    I’ve lost track. Do we have one hatched in the wild Eastern population whooper alive? Or more?

    Do they think 21-13 was hit by a car?

    • Heather Ray November 18, 2013 6:36 pm

      There are currently three wild-produced/hatched chicks alive in the EMP. As for 21-13 I don’t believe necropsy results have been released as yet

  2. Warrenwesternpa November 16, 2013 12:26 pm

    Whooping Crane Update 1 September – 14 November, 2013

    Always amazing to see how our birds are tracked and accounted for. Mortality is a humbling factor and yet it is nature at the noblest.

    Thank you Heather, Beverly and Mike and all others for reporting these events!