Planes, Boats and Automobiles

While still in his egg, number 4-14 heard his first airplane at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Once he was old enough, he learned to follow it in the circle pen.

After he got to know his team mates (all girls) he took his first real airplane ride.  This time it was a turboprop Cessna to Wisconsin, although he didn’t get to see much because of the crate he was in.

Over the summer and into the fall he dutifully followed the little yellow aircraft up and down the runway and then on his first migration to Florida. He had a little break while he wore a hinged hock brace and missed a bunch of training but he never lost his spirit.

During his recovery, he had his first car ride but again, it was in a crate after he dropped out of the flight. He got to ride in lots of vehicles on his way south. In fact he covered more of it in a crate than he did flying.

In the spring he finally got a chance to test his  own wings when he and a few of the girls covered 700 miles following 5-12 to southern Illinois. Thereafter 4-14 decided to have a little alone time. He found the perfect spot in a flooded ag field in the middle of his own island.

The next airplane he saw did a low pass yesterday as he fluffed his feathers and threatened the intruder. Then today he heard a familiar call and flew over to investigate. He ventured too close for that last grape and ended up in the crate again. Thereafter he had his first boat ride, then into the van and finally the pen he had lived in every night of the migration south.

Hopefully tomorrow night he will have his last ride in a vehicle. He has traveled in planes, boats and automobiles but for him, they are all the same. He is familiar with the inside of the crate and the only difference is the volume of noise outside and the frequency of the vibration.

If we are lucky, all of those conveyances will be part of his history, never to reoccur. But as artificial as they were, it was all done as a means to an end. From now on the only way he will move will be under his own steam and that was the goal from the beginning. It just took a little longer for him.

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  1. Catherine Wohlfeil May 14, 2015 8:35 pm

    Go Peanut! He’s “The Little Crane that Could”, and did. : )

  2. birdlady9 May 14, 2015 4:44 pm

    Great story and perspective. Thank you, Joe! Safe journey back to Wisconsin.

  3. ffmn May 14, 2015 3:15 pm

    QQ Heather: Will there still be a Q when it comes time for migration south again, that once again, the area from Wi TO TN will be a problem, even if some regulars fly thru that zone, that is unknown to the 2014 Whoopers? Just like they stopped at TN and ’12 con’d to WI?

    • Heather Ray May 14, 2015 5:20 pm

      That’s a possibility however we’re hoping that during the time they spend at the summer terminus they will develop relationships with older whooping cranes.

  4. Betsy May 14, 2015 2:05 pm

    Glad to hear the spring safari is almost over! I’m already wondering what is happening with the 2015 class – I can’t remember if the updates from Patuxent get posted here or somewhere else.

  5. Andrea Johnson May 14, 2015 11:48 am

    I still believe that 4-14 (Peanut) has yet to place his name in the books for Whooper Survival. That being said, I still believe that he will surprise us all.

  6. Bikebrains May 14, 2015 10:41 am

    During the last ride have him watch the John Candy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

  7. Reta May 14, 2015 10:11 am

    Praying that his return home will be a summer of growth and fun for this adventurous, now famous young crane. I am looking forward to reading reports on his return flight alone on his own in the fall. Thanks for taking such great care of these beautiful birds and keeping us informed.


  8. Dorothy Nordness May 14, 2015 9:46 am

    That Peanut has had quite an amazing life!!! So glad he is back in custody safe and sound and for sure headed back to his old stomping grounds. Thank you, team, for all you do!!!!

  9. Dora Giles May 14, 2015 9:42 am

    Thank you Joe for all you have done for all these beautiful birds and especially for Peanut this last year. Hopefully he will become the “Main Man” around WRM in the coming years and will produce many babies. We would love to see a bunch of Peanut Jrs. flying!!!


  10. Mollie Cook May 14, 2015 9:20 am

    Joe……Heather…….I am just awe-struck at what transpired the last 2 days. Absolutely amazing. So thankful to hear all the news & that Peanut & 3-14 (Cattail) will be home at last on Friday. So proud for the entire OM team. Safe journey to WRM!

  11. roly May 14, 2015 8:57 am

    Follow by a Big Thank YOU.


  12. Linda Spyhalski May 14, 2015 8:21 am

    Thank you to everyone from that first walk around the circle pen to his last ride today for all the love and care you have given and the great accomplishment you have made. Such a precious gift you have given to the world. When I think of all the sad environmental news we hear every day I want to shout but we have one more Whooper in the Eastern Flyway all thanks to Operation Migration! You don’t just talk about it you wade in the mud and get the job done, bless you all!

    • Christy May 14, 2015 12:34 pm

      How beautiful, Linda!

  13. Patricia Ewing May 14, 2015 8:02 am

    Thank you so much for your dedication..

  14. Frederick Wasti May 14, 2015 8:00 am

    Wonderful story, Joe. Let’s hope that Peanut graduates from motorized to winged transportation (only) successfully…

  15. Cheryl Murphy May 14, 2015 7:44 am

    Heartwarming. What a story!

  16. Lynda Johnston May 14, 2015 7:40 am

    Well said. Amen and Godspeed. Bless you Joe, and all your cohorts.