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Doug Pellerin managed to capture this photo showing Parent-reared whooping crane #38-17 (left) along with two adult whoopers near Horicon Marsh in Dodge County, WI last week. In the middle is female #71-16 and on the right is male 63-15.

Three whooping cranes among Sandhill cranes. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Since this photo was taken, 63-15 and 38-17 are still at Horicon but 71-16 has begun migration and currently in Jasper County, Indiana – BUT WAIT! It’s gets even more interesting!

I pulled up the GSM hit for 71-16 just now and realized the field she is in looked familiar. Now how many times does that happen to you? You’re boppin along, traveling on Google Earth and you come across a random field in Indiana and say to yourself “Self, that field looks familiar”! Never, right?

That’s why I figured I needed to find out WHY it looked familiar. I checked back through the PTT hits, which arrive faithfully at 7am each day and low and behold, another other Parent-reared crane I had been monitoring in southern Dodge County, WI, number 24-17 was in the SAME FIELD as 71-16!

The red and yellow dots are from the GSM device worn by 71-16. The blue dots are from 24-17’s PTT device.

How on earth do these birds manage to find each other like that?


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  1. PattiLat November 23, 2017 9:15 am

    Heather, thanks very much for this current update and putting it into the FJ for us to follow the progress of the OM project.. It’s amazing, “How do they find each other?” We all really appreciate you.

  2. Karen Willes November 22, 2017 9:05 pm

    This post brings back great memories for me. While 11-09 & 15-09 were at Cow Pond, they had some interesting pals twice. One year a pair of Sandhill Cranes spent nearly 3 weeks with them. They would leave at different times in the morning and return, sometimes together, or within minutes of each other in the evening. Even more interesting is when two Snow Geese took up with the Whoopers. The Whooping Cranes would fly south in the morning and the Snow Geese flew west with the rest of the Canada Geese. Much to my surprise is when the Whooping Cranes and the Snow Geese arrive back at Cow Pond that evening together!

  3. Sidney Burr November 22, 2017 4:00 pm

    Boy, the whoopers really stand out among all those sandhills. Bet they are jealous of the whoopers’ beauty!

  4. Maggie Turk November 22, 2017 2:38 pm

    You never cease to amaze me Heather with all the knowledge you have about the Whoopers– where they are and who they are!!! You certainly are doing a job that you enjoy and keep us informed so completely . Thanks, as that all helps to be added to my”Thanksgiving” list. Have a great one.

    • Heather Ray November 22, 2017 2:46 pm

      Aww thanks so much Maggie! <3