Aerial Survey Results

Wisconsin DNR pilot Michael Callahan flew over the Wisconsin Rectangle reintroduction area yesterday, which includes Horicon and White River Marsh areas.

During his flight he located DAR 18-11 at the Horicon Marsh and a group of SIX Whooping cranes just north of our camp at White River Marsh SWA.

The group of six consisted of three males: 4-12, 5-12 and 4-14 (Peanut) and three females: 3-14, 9-14 and 10-14.

Six whooping cranes, along with dozens of sandhill cranes in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: Michael Callahan

Six whooping cranes, along with several sandhill cranes in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: Michael Callahan

A bit to the west, in Marquette County and near the Germania Marsh SWA, Michael located males 4-13 and 9-13 along with female 7-14.

Another female (8-14) was located in Dane County, WI where she has been for the past several weeks.

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  1. Margie Tomlinson October 23, 2015 10:54 pm

    Wonderful to see the former students doing well in the wild! Sure hope it stays that way. Thank you Michael Callahan, WI DNR, & OM for these vital updates on our Whoopers! 🙂

  2. AintThatAmerica October 23, 2015 5:41 pm

    I am surprised to learn that the newest 2015 crop is ahead of many older Whoopers on their southerly migration? wow. Have any older birds ever formed up with the trike on a later year migration?

    Another question is, if the Whoopers have the instinct to migrate north in the spring, why does the southerly migration need to be taught? I suspect there is no explaining this.

    • Heather Ray October 24, 2015 6:33 am

      Only once has a previous year crane joined up with a migration flight and it was very brief. In Tennessee at the Hiwassee State Wildlife Area. The crane stayed with the aircraft for about a mile before breaking off.
      As for your second question – in the natural world, parents would guide their offspring south, passing on knowledge of a safe migration route to a suitable wintering area. They would then stay with their young colt at the southern terminus until the following spring and occasionally will return north with them. The southward migration takes place when young-of-year cranes are 5 months of age. Still too young to be on their own in the north where conditions will very quickly freeze and food sources will be unavailable over the winter.

  3. jillbru October 23, 2015 2:29 pm

    WOO HOO, another Peanut sighting – thanks, Heather 🙂

  4. Kay Huey October 23, 2015 2:19 pm

    I am so very pleased to hear about 10 of the whoopers. It looks like some of them are sticking together and have found some friendly sandhills to help guide them south. They certainly deserve big smiles!

    Little Dancer, do you roost in a nice marsh at night? Have you been trying to be on the path for migration, moving earlier from Illinois to Wisconsin? Will you remember that you need to soar one of these days? Maybe with some of the cohorts or sandies to the north?

    I dearly hope that all the answers are “yes.”

    • Heather Ray October 24, 2015 7:06 am

      Tiny Dancer (8-14) is in a State Wildlife Area with plenty of suitable habitat.

      • Kay Huey October 24, 2015 7:43 am

        Thank you, Heather! I dearly appreciate your taking the time to let me know that she is in a good, safe place.

        Obviously, she captured my heart last year and I search for news of her.

        She has had many adventures, but in her own way she has always found sensible solutions. I thank her basic good sense to the care and training she received from Operation Migration.

  5. Marje lloyd October 23, 2015 2:04 pm

    Just love this picture and the fact that all last years burds found there way back to wisconsin, despite them being crated for part of the route, great work everybody keep it up.