Royal Couple has Returned

… to White River Marsh!

We received a PTT hit Tuesday evening indicating female 3-14 was back at the marsh. Curious to learn whether male 4-12 and Parent Reared crane number 30-16 were also with her, Brooke sent an email to Tom Schultz.

Shortly after, Tom responded with “I didn’t have strong expectations of seeing the birds, since I knew that they often hung out deep in the marsh, but I was still hopeful.

Well, the good news is that I was able to spot them – standing among cattails, perhaps 200 yards off the road. I parked and got out to attempt to get photos, even though they were well hidden in the vegetation, and it was difficult for the my camera to find the right focal distance.

Then, after only about 20-30 seconds they suddenly took flight. I tried to grab a few shots as they flew (see attached), but at that point I sure wished that I had set my camera to rapid-fire mode. Perhaps you can tell who they are from the photos, even though the view of the bands isn’t great – but I suspect that they were “The Royal Couple”. Unfortunately there were only two of them there, so perhaps 30-16 is no longer with them?”

Young 30-16 was the only crane to not receive a remote tracking device last fall when he was released. He does, however, have a VHF radio so Doug Pellerin will be listening for his beeps on a tracking excursion this week. We’ll let you know when/where he turns up (the young crane – not Doug).

We know 30-16 wintered in south Georgia with this pair and it’s typical for adults to chase off youngsters when breeding season rolls around so hopefully, he’s just been chased away and is still in the area.

In the meantime, enjoy a couple of photos captured by Tom Schultz yesterday morning!

Whooping cranes 3-14 and 4-12 among the cattails at White River Marsh, in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: T. Schultz

A close crop indicates male 4-12 on the right and female 3-14 on the left. Photo: T. Schultz

Share Button


  1. Warrenwesternpa March 23, 2017 11:04 pm

    Royal Couple has Returned Thanks Tom & Heather

    I wonder how they get a running start to fly with all the reeds around them? Can they jump like a duck? Such amazing birds!

    • Heather Ray March 24, 2017 6:30 am

      They are able to leap into the air and launch 🙂

  2. Catherine Wohlfeil March 23, 2017 10:05 pm

    Great to see the Royal Couple is back. Maybe 30-16 is out on his first date!

  3. Peter Smith March 23, 2017 6:53 pm

    Every story and photo I see of our beloved birds is great news to me. I am so grateful to all of you for giving these birds every possible chance to survive and reproduce, in spite of the fact that we’re not flying with them any more (my strong preference).

    Makes me proud to be a craniac.

  4. Mollie Cook March 23, 2017 4:05 pm

    So excited to see the RC back at WRM. Hoping that 5-12 & Peanut will be next to arrive.

  5. Nancy Roe Pimm March 23, 2017 1:16 pm

    I am writing a book about whooping cranes and would love to hear all about them.

    • Mollie Cook March 23, 2017 4:03 pm

      Nancy, what prompted your interest in Whooping Cranes? You have come to the right place to learn!!!

      • Nancy Roe Pimm March 23, 2017 6:44 pm

        My nephew work at Homosassa where the Levi and Peepers story started. Levi’s devotion to Peepers won me over and I needed to learn more. The more I learned about Operation Migration and all of the craniacs working hard to save the species,the more excited I was to write a book for younger readers ages 8-14. I would love to hear about new stories, such as who is the “royal couple?” What is their story?

        • Mollie Cook March 24, 2017 2:40 pm

          Nancy that is so exciting. Please do let us know when your book is published because I know there will be many who will want a copy including me for my granddaughter. The Royal Couple (RC) are male Whooping crane #5-12 & female Whooping crane #3-14, dubbed the Royal Couple by Crane Chatters. I guess a good place to start for more information/history on them would be to read past Field Journal entries. On the left side of this page, type in Royal Couple under Search Entries for a list of FJ entries. You can also search for whooping crane 5-12 & whooping crane 3-14 to read about their training in 2012 & 2014. Hope this helps.

          • Heather Ray March 24, 2017 2:43 pm

            Oops, nope. it’s 4-12 and 3-14 🙂

          • Mollie Cook March 24, 2017 2:48 pm

            Was just coming back in to correct that Heather……..thank you!!! Fingers working faster than my mind!!

          • Heather Ray March 24, 2017 4:36 pm

            I got your back 😉

          • Nancy Roe Pimm March 25, 2017 8:54 am

            Thanks, Mollie! I appreciate all the help I can get. There are such lovely stories about the cranes and the folks who are working to save them.


  6. Susanne March 23, 2017 11:58 am

    Way to go, Heather!

  7. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd March 23, 2017 11:35 am

    WHOOP ! WHOOP! this is awesome news. Let the fun begin. Hoping for successful whooper nesting this season at WRM. Thank you for the update and photos. OM and friends ROCK !

  8. Dorothy N March 23, 2017 11:01 am

    Great news!!! Hip-hip-hooray for the Royal Couple, and hopefully for their adopted offspring as well.

  9. PattiLat March 23, 2017 10:47 am

    Exciting news! Thank you.

  10. Mindy March 23, 2017 10:16 am

    So glad they are back! Prayers for 30-16, wherever he is…