Wrong Way Whooper

Parent-reared Whooping crane #72-17 was released in early October in Winnebago County, Wisconsin. For a few weeks, he was monitored by Jo-Anne Bellemer as he moved about the area with a small group of Sandhill cranes. 

This fella gets high marks for traveling the farthest last fall. Four days after leaving Wisconsin, he appeared in Okeechobee County, FL, some 1300 miles to the south.

He began heading north on April 2nd and everything was going great until 4 days later when he appeared to make a right turn over northern Kentucky, instead of staying on his trajectory.

Thereafter, #72-17 encountered the south shore of Lake Erie before doubling back and then veering north into Michigan. oops!

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  1. Keith April 19, 2018 8:22 am

    we will have to name him Feldman

  2. Dave Parsons April 17, 2018 9:20 pm

    Saw this individual this evening, happily hanging out with a large group of Sandhill Cranes in Jackson County, Michigan.

  3. Dan Fantore April 17, 2018 10:35 am

    a very smart crane–wanting to go Michigan!

  4. Vanessa Dargain April 15, 2018 9:49 pm

    Thanks for doing your best at monitoring whoopers people !
    Hold their extinction off for as long as you can . Cornell Ornithology
    still list them as threatened . I live in New Mexico and have been lucky enough to see them in the wild .


  5. Margaret Irvin April 14, 2018 3:36 pm

    Okeechobee County is at the northern end of Lake Okeechobee–not the southern end. That area is Hendry County.

  6. Richard P Chase April 13, 2018 4:28 pm

    Seems to me like he is just one of those “good ole boys” that NEVER get lost, he’s just cruising around taking in the sights.

  7. Barbara April 13, 2018 1:10 pm

    Looks like this fella just likes to sightsee. First Cincinnati, then Columbus, then Cleveland, following I-71 all the way. Then a visit to Toledo and onto Michigan. Perhaps he just loves to fly! Thanks for the update.

  8. Grandma April 13, 2018 12:23 pm

    I, to, have been wondering if the storms have been effecting the whoopers. Bring on spring.

  9. Bikebrains April 13, 2018 12:09 pm

    I once read/heard that whooping cranes will not fly over large bodies of open water. Is that statement true? Does 72-17’s flight path indicate an individual decision or a species’ trait?

    • Heather Ray April 13, 2018 3:41 pm

      True – Cranes are soaring birds, which use thermals to gain altitude. There is no thermal activity over the cold water. I suspect 72-17 is simply following the sandhill cranes he spent the winter with.

  10. Di Lowe April 13, 2018 9:55 am

    So appreciate these updates, Thank you!

  11. Dorothy N (from Michigan) April 13, 2018 9:36 am

    The last update showed 2 whoopers in Michigan, one of whom has been here for couple of years. That one had been hanging around the southwest corner of the state, but the last update showed him/her in the southeast. I’m thrilled to have them here in Michigan but they’re probably hanging with sandhills and someone needs to tell hunters that there are NO ALBINO SANDHILLS!!!

    • Heather Ray April 13, 2018 10:07 am

      but there are leucistic Sandhills. In fact there is one in Kearney currently.

  12. Lyn April 13, 2018 8:48 am

    Michigan is considering a crane hunt. Best start teaching them to ID whoopers vs. sandhills now. Hopefully #72-17 will find his way yet home to Wisconsin’s whooper flock!

  13. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd April 13, 2018 7:55 am

    Wondering if the strange turn to the east was possibly caused by one of the strong storms we have had. The telemetry you have to track these wonderful birds is amazing! Thank you for sharing all that is being discovered.

  14. Jane Maher April 13, 2018 7:51 am

    Darn it! Another Michigander!