Some of you may recall the four DAR whooping cranes, which were retrieved from Michigan in early May 2016 and released in Marquette County, WI. Cranes 61, 62, 63 and 67-15 had spent their first winter in Randolph County, IL and soon after initiating their first spring journey north, they ended up in Michigan.
The decision to capture and relocate them was made after watching their movements via their GSM cellular transmitters. Moving them back to Wisconsin, we hoped, would reorient them and give them a better chance of finding mates in the future.
Once back in Wisconsin the foursome made a visit to Horicon NWR in Dodge County, where they were initially released in the fall of 2015 but soon after ventured west and appeared to follow the Mississippi river until they arrived back at their previous winter’s location in Randolph County, IL – at the end of May… a tad early to be at a wintering location.
Sadly, male crane number 62-15 was found dead beneath a powerline in December 2016. The three remaining cranes, numbers 61-15*, 63-15 & 67-15* stayed in Randolph County for another winter season… until early April!
The satellite data on 1 April placed female 67-15 a couple of counties to the north in Illinois. She, at least, was on her way north. The young male number 63-15 does not have a remote tracking device and the last hit we’ve received for the other female, number 61-15 was dated 5 March so we had no way of knowing if the three were still traveling together until we could get eyes on them.
A hit for 67-15 last week, placed her in Dodge County, WI and back at Horicon NWR so I contacted Doug Pellerin to see if he would head over to try to visually confirm her presence and hopefully her two traveling companions.
Sure enough – all three were together! These three do know where Wisconsin is!
Don’t forget – if you spot a whooping crane, be sure to jot down their unique legband color combinations on each leg and fill out the public sightings form.