Class of 2004

 

All Whooping crane released in 2004 were raised by costumed handlers and learned a migration route by following Operation Migration’s aircraft from Juneau County, Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR to Chassahowitzka NWR in Citrus County, Florida. 

The 1200-mile southward migration began October 10, 2004 and ended 64 days later on December 12th.

1-04 2-04 3-04 5-04

Died Mar ’05

6-04

Died Dec ’04

7-04

Died Aug ’07

8-04 12-04

Shot Jan ’11

14-04

Died May ’05

15-04

Pres. Dead ’13

16-04 17-04

Died Jun ’06

18-04

Died Jul ’05

19-04

Died Sep ’14

20-04

Died Apr ’09


Crane #1-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 20, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/green/white Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Introduced to the aircraft at 8 days of age. Received 6 hrs & 24 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) Followed the trike well from the start, and also did well when left alone. Very small bird and rather submissive. Loves the costume and is a bit clingy around it. Follows and begs for treats.

History 

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #1-04 stayed with #7-04, #8-04 and #14-04. They returned to their previous roost in Fond du Lac County, WI and were gone when the site was checked on April 7. They were next seen April 14 during an aerial search in Winnebago County, Illinois, in a harvested cornfield 1 mile south of the Wisconsin border. They roosted at this location and foraged in cornfields on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line until 25 April when they proceeded northward to roost in Adams County, WI – 27 miles from Necedah NWR. On April 27 they completed migration to Necedah NWR, then flew to nearby Yellow River Cranberry, just east of the Refuge, to join #12-03 and #16-03. They stayed there several days, but #1-04,#7-04 and #8-04 departed the area on May 3 (after #14-04 was killed by a large predator the night of May 2). On May 9 and 10, they were confirmed in southeastern Wisconsin. These three flew into southeastern Minnesota in mid-June in wandering behavior that is is normal for yearling cranes. During the summer,  #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 roosted together back at Necedah NWR.

Cranes #1-04, 7-04, 8-04 on Nov. 22, 2005.

Fall 2005: Cooler temperatures at the end of August prompted some early autumn staging/pre-migratory activity, and the three birds moved from Necedah NWR to Morrison County in central Minnesota. They were seen there on several dates up to Nov. 9. They were next sighted Nov. 22 in Washington County, Indiana—on migration! They were using the shallow edge of a lake and foraging in a harvested cornfield next to the lake. They roosted near Hiwassee NWR in TN on Nov. 24. On Nov. 24 they were in Sumter County, GA. On Nov. 30, cranes #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 completed migration when they arrived at the Chassahowitzka pen site. They soon moved on to other nearby areas.

Spring 2006: Still with #7-04 and #8-04, he left Madison County, Florida, and flew into Georgia on March 9. They completed migration to Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR March 20.

Fall 2006: Began migration from Wisconsin on Nov. 19. Made it to SE Indiana that day. Detected in flight over Pasco County, FL on Nov. 24. Remained there with the sub-adult flock (#9-03, #7-04, #20-05) and sandhill cranes during December. Visited the Chass pen in January after the new chicks arrived.

Spring 2007: Crane #1-04 (and #20-05) left Pasco County, FL on March 13. Arrived on Necedah NWR by the night of March 22. The pair separated and #1-04 was not located again until April 19. He and #8-05 were found together in Wood County on an aerial survey. Female #8-05 had apparently been in this area for several weeks.

Fall 2007: Migrated from Wisconsin to Kane County, Illinois, on November 22 with crane #8-05. By the end of December the two were in Davidson County, Tennessee.

Spring 2008: Signals heard on the refuge March 30 confirmed the pair (#1-04 and #8-05) was back on Necedah NWR. They began nesting around April 16, but only eggshell fragments were found when the nest was checked on May 5. This pair separated for a short time in early fall.

Fall weather in Wisconsin was unusually warm. On November 1, ICF Tracking Interns Eva Szyszkoski and Binga Elger checked on the five 2008 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cranes released together on a remote part of the Necedah NWR. 

Fall 2008: By Nov. 5 or 6, #1-04 was back with mate #8-05. #1-04’s transmitter was replaced so he can now be tracked again. They were in Davidson County, Tennessee for the winter.

Spring 2009: Began migration with mate #8-05 on or after March 9. Reported back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 19. He and mate #8-05 were found on a nest April 9! The nest failed April 24, likely due to the torment of the crane pair by an outbreak of biting black flies as the adults tried to sit on the nest. This pair stayed in the area together all summer.

Fall 2009: Began migration with mate #8-05 on November 15, a day with clear skies and north winds to help push them south. Amazingly, they met up with another pair (#14-05 and #12-07) and a single crane (#29-08) at the same location in Winnebago County, Illinois, where they remained until December 9. No subsequent reports of the pair #1-04/#8-05 after that.

Spring 2010: The signal of #1-04 and his mate #8-05 were detected on Necedah NWR on March 17, although the birds had not yet been visually confirmed. They had been reported south of the Jasper-Pulaski FWA in Indiana on March 10 and in Lake County, Indiana, on March 14 and 15.

Fall 2010: Male #1-04 and mate #8-05 migrated to Morgan County, Alabama, but they were no longer found at that location after January 27.

Spring 2011: Male #1-04 and mate #8-05 were back at Necedah NWR by March 21. In late April this pair was nesting but the nest failed May 7. Two eggs were destroyed before they could be collected.

Fall 2011: Tracker Eva said #1-04 and #8-05 “have a habit of wintering in areas that we have trouble locating.” They did not winter in Illinois because they were only detected there once or twice and then moved on to an unknown location. This winter, #W1-10 apparently wintered with this adult pair.

Spring 2012: Pair #1-04 and #8-05, with #W1-10, showed up in Douglas County, Illinois on Feb. 28, reported ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. The three cranes stayed together as they migrated back to Necedah NWR where they showed up on March 14!

Fall 2012: Wintering area unknown.

Spring 2013: Pair #1-04 and #8-05 completed spring migration on March 30.

Fall 2013: Crane #1-04 and mate #8-05 migrated south to Wheeler NWR in northern Alabama.

Spring 2014: Pair #1-04 and #8-05 were in Giles County, Tennessee in early February. They were seen departing on Feb. 22, traveling with Sandhill cranes. This location was north of the wintering location where they were seen in December. They were next reported in Lawrence County, Illinois, on 19 March where they remained through at least 28 March. They were not detected there on March 31st, and they were confirmed back on Necedah NWR on April 1. The pair nested in Juneau County, and the nest was still active as of April 30. However, on the May 29 aerial survey flight the pair was seen foraging away from the nest, so they had abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Pair #1-04 and #8-05 left Juneau County WI, on fall migration around Nov. 8 and migrated to Wheeler NWR in Alabama. They were not consistently there all winter and probably used another nearby area as well.

Spring 2015: #1-04 and #8-05 returned to central Wisconsin and nested.Those first eggs were removed April 16 by experts in the forced renesting program, but their second nest produced chick #W16-5 around June 2. The chick was seen alive on June 23, but did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Crane pair #1-04 and female #8-05 spent about a month in Lawrence County, IL before moving on to their wintering grounds at Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, AL.

Spring 2016: Male #1-04 and female #8-05 were first reported back on the breeding grounds on March 29th, 2016. Their first nest failed but they were seen on a renest May 6 and hatched two chicks by May 28. Chick #W10-16 was last seen alive June 2, and #W9-16 was still alive and with the parents on their territory Aug. 4. By the end of August, the remaining chick had died.

Fall 2016: Male #1-04 was alone and still in Juneau County, WI until he migrated to Morgan County, AL in December.

Spring 2017: After completing spring migration back to Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR, male #1-04 and his new mate female #16-07 were reported on a nest platform April 2nd by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan. While they did build a nest platform, this pair did not successfully produce eggs this year.

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Crane #2-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 21, 2004
Legbands: Left: white/red/white Right: white/green

Migration Training: Introduced to the trike at 8-days of age. Received 8 hrs & 10 min. of aircraft conditioning at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Good follower. Wants to be in charge. Clobbered the younger #7-04 when the younger chick bit him on the neck.

History

First Migration South: Crated to destination on Day 1 and dropped out on Day 2 (crated again). Crated to Kankakee Cty, IL on day 22. On day 36, decided that while it couldn’t manage to follow the aircraft another 5 miles into Oldham County, it could still fly for more than 7 hours (all over Kentucky, and southeast Indiana) before he was retrieved by trackers. Often called a troublemaker (along with #5-04 and #8-04).

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #2-04 stayed with #3, #15, #16, #17, #19 and #20. They remained in Dane County, WI and finally arrived on Necedah NWR on May 3, migration complete! During the summer, cranes #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04 roosted as a group, often with sandhill cranes. They spent time in Columbia and Marquette counties, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. On November 10 they were roosting at a central Tennessee location. According to tracker Lara Fondow, the five males landed at their former pen site in Florida at 2:05 November 17. They are the first Eastern flock whoopers to complete migration to the primary wintering area in west-central Florida this fall! With no free food at the pen, they wandered north the next day.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 27 or 28 in a group with #3-04, #12-04, #16-04 and #17-04. They were reported in Dane County, WI on March 31. They moved up to Necedah NWR to complete their migration on April 6!

Fall 2006: Departed Wisconsin on Nov. 19 (with #10-03, #3-04 and #12-04) and made it that night to NE Illinois. They successfully migrated to Florida, where #2-04 was in Lafayette County with #3-04 and #12-04.

Spring 2007: Began migration March 18 (with #3-04 and #12-04). Confirmed roosting with #3-04 on Necedah NWR, on the night of March 26.

Fall 2007: #2-04 began migration from Wisconsin on November 21 along with #7-03, #12-04, #11-05, #14-05, and #W1-06 (the flock’s only wild-hatched chick so far). He was found with #12-04 and wintering sandhill cranes in Lake County, Florida, on December 19.
Spring 2008: Began spring migration on March 17 with #12-04. Confirmed back on Necedah NWR by March 30.

Fall 2008: Crane #2-04 left Wisconsin November 20 with #5-01 and #1-05. (They had departed Hiwassee WR, Tennessee, after December 19.) In Florida, he stayed with #5-01 and #1-05 in Hernando County until January 3, when he moved to his previous wintering location in Lake County. On January 24, a day after the Class of 2008 chicks arrived at the Chass pen, he showed up there too. He was still there the next day. ICF’s Sara Zimorski said, “Maybe he was lonely and looking for #5-01 and #1-05 again. He doesn’t seem like he’ll cause problems, but we’ll keep an eye on him. If he stays we’ll see how he does with the chicks once they’re released after health checks.”

Surprise! Adult male #2-04 was still at the Chass pen during the chicks’ health checks, and Eva tells what happened: “After costumed handlers took the first few chicks away to the tent, #2-04 began to alarm call as each successive chick disappeared down the path. Chick #14-08 joined in with his already-adult voice, and several of the other chicks voiced their objections with high pitched little peeps.

“While #2-04 did not need a new transmitter, one of his bands was chipped. We decided to try to capture him to replace the band and let the Disney folks perform a health check on him as well. Sara didn’t seem to be too hopeful about his willingness to be caught, since he had just watched seven chicks be hauled away. But all it took was one little grape! As soon as Sara put a grape in her puppet beak, #2-04 came right up to her, apparently risking the chance of being caught for one little delicious treat. Needless to say, catching him was not as difficult as we expected. We knew that Sara had been successful when we heard #2-04 rattling—a typical sound made by a crane when it is caught.

#2-04 having blood drawn.

After his band was replaced and his health check completed, #2-04 was released back in the open topped pen, free to fly away.

By January 29, #2-04 had moved to Hernando County, and by January 30 he was back at his Lake County location.

Spring 2008: Began migration from Lake County, Florida on March 17. Back in Wisconsin on Necedah NWR, he was with female DAR #46-07 after she split from #12-04 after migration. Male #2-04 and DAR #46-07 were a pair all summer and stayed in the core area.

Fall 2009: Pair #2-04 and DAR #46-07 were still on the Wisconsin refuge as of Nov. 15. They did migrate and wintered in Lake County, Florida.

Spring 2010: Began migration from Florida on March 19 with female #46-07 (DAR). They were reported near Concord, Pike County, Georgia, on 19 March. They were back on Necedah NWR by March 28. Then came GREAT news: #2-04 and his mate were observed sitting on a nest near one of the ultralight training sites on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on April 30th. But the pair continued to incubate the egg for another eight days after it was due to hatch. The egg was collected and analyzed at ICF, where they found that the egg was infertile. (Fingers crossed that next spring they’ll become parents.)

Fall 2010: Migrating male #2-04 and mate #46-07 (DAR) were found with pair #13-02 and #18-02 in Will County, Illinois, on the afternoon of November 26. They remained in the area at least through December 2. They completed migration to their wintering territory in Lake County, Florida, where they were found during an aerial survey on December 13.

Spring 2011: Began migration on March 8 with female #46-07 (DAR). They were back at Necedah NWR by March 21. The pair began incubating on April 19 and on May 16 little #W4-11 hatched! By June 10 their chick was the Eastern flock’s only surviving wild-hatched chick for the summer 2011 nesting season. But good luck ran out and the chick was found dead July 1.

“This pair is doing a nest exchange,” explains Eva. Female #46-07 DAR is on the nest, about to sit down. Her mate, #2-04, is feeding. Both parents help incubate the eggs, which take a month to hatch. Photo: Eva Szyszkowski

Parents and chick #W4-11 on June 12, 2011, but the chick was discovered dead on July 1. Photo: Eva Szyszkowski

Fall 2011: Began migration Nov. 27. Usually winters in Lake County, Florida, with his mate #46-07 (DAR), but they didn’t make it that far south this year. They were reported in Hopkins County, Kentucky at the end of January and remained in the area through at least February 13.

Spring 2012: Male #2-04 with mate #46-07 (DAR) completed spring migration back to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 12. They were found incubating on an April 26 nesting survey flight by trackers. They were off the nest when trackers saw them on the May 21 survey flight, and appeared to be tending a chick (#W7-12). The chick survived several weeks but was no longer alive by the July 6 report from tracker Eva. On August 28, male #2-04’s mate (#46-07 DAR) was discovered dead on Necedah NWR.

Fall 2012: He was captured Oct. 24 and his transmitter replaced before fall migration. His original band colors remain the same.

Spring 2013: Crane#2-04 with new mate #8-09, was reported back on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 24, but likely had come in on March 23 with cranes #1-10 and #W1-10. The new pair was soon nesting, but the nest failed in early May and they did not produce chicks this summer.

Fall 2013: This fall, crane #2-04 mate #8-09, seem to have successfully adopted a young whooper chick (#24-13) that was raised by adult whoopers this summer at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and released in September at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR in hopes the chick would join a willing adult pair. Will this new “family” migrate south together? Everyone hopes so! This is a new program, called Parent Rearing (PR), to grow the eastern flock of endangered Whooping cranes.

The group moved to Sauk County, Wisconsin, on October 21 and left on migration from that location on November 10. Satellite readings placed them in Jasper County, Illinois, on 11 November 11 and at the adults’ previous wintering location in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on November 13. Well done, #4-02 and #8-09! The family was still together in Hopkins County, Kentucky, until at least March 3. Four other adults are also in the area.

Spring 2014: Crane #2-04 and mate #8-09 arrived back on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 29/30. The pair was discovered to have an active nest on April 15, but sad news came just three days later (April 18) when the intact carcass of his mate #8-09 was found near the nest. A single intact egg was rescued from the nest and transported to the International Crane Foundation in nearby Baraboo, Wisconsin. By end of summer he had re-paired with #25-09.

Fall 2014: Male #2-04 and new mate #25-09 didn’t raise a chick this summer but on September 22, parent-reared chick #27-14 was released near the pair in hopes they would foster the chick and lead her on migration this fall. The adults and the chick left Necedah on Oct. 31 and migrated together to Hopkins County, Kentucky. They were joined there by Nov. 21 by #24-09 and #42-09 and two more Whooping Cranes in early December and spent the winter.

Spring 2015: Male #2-04 and mate #25-09 departed Hopkins County, Kentucky around March 24 with their adopted youngster #27-14 and together they completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 31. The pair nested and were already parents of new twin chicks by May 18. The adults were photographed by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan on June 8 with surviving chick #W10-15. The chick survived the summer and fledged!

Photos Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Number W10-15 survived to fledge. Photos Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: The family left Necedah NWR and were reported for the first time on a wintering area in Kentucky on January 14, 2016. No chick was mentioned, and trackers are currently working on verifying the exact location and whether #W10-15 is still with the parents.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #2-04 and #25-09 returned to Necedah NWR as of mid-March. Their chick, #W10-15, was photographed alone in Vernon County, Wisconsin on March 26, separating from parents before the completion of the northward migration. The pair nested again and their new chick, #W19-16, hatched on June 5. It was one of four surviving chicks by July 15, but had perished by July 27.

Fall 2016: Pair #2-04 and #25-09 were still in Juneau County, WI as of Oct. 31 in an unusually mild autumn. They were reported in Hopkins County, Kentucky in December.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #2-04 and #25-09 returned to Necedah NWR and were nesting by early April. They re-nested and were incubating that nest in Juneau County when seen on Beverly Paulan’s May 12 aerial survey. By June 15th this pair hatched twins! 

Tiny whooping crane chicks W16-17 and W17-17 with Mom 25-09 and Dad 2-04. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Sadly, two weeks after the above photo was taken both chicks had disappeared.

 

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Crane #3-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 21, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: white/green

Migration Training: Introduced to the trike at 8 days. Received 9 hrs & 10 min. of aircraft conditioning while at PWRC. Big and dominate, he’s one of the top birds. A pig for treats.  

History

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1. The 1200-mile southward migration began October 10, 2004 and ended 64 days later on December 12th.

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4.  On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #3-04 stayed with #2, #15, #16, #17, #19 and #20. They remained in Dane County, WI and finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. During the summer, cranes #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04 roosted as a group, often with sandhill cranes. They spent time in Columbia and Marquette Counties, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #2-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04. They made it to Indiana the first day.On November 10th they were roosting at a central Tennessee location. According to tracker Lara Fondow, the five males landed at their former pen site in Florida at 2:05 November 17. They are the first Eastern flock whoopers to complete migration to the primary wintering area in west-central Florida this fall! With no free food at the pen, they wandered north the next day.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 27 or 28 in a group with #2-04, #12-04, #16-04 and #17-04. They were reported in Dane County, WI on March 31. They moved up to Necedah NWR to complete their migration on April 6!

Fall 2006: Departed Wisconsin on Nov. 19 (with #10-03, #2-04 and #12-04) and made it that night to NE Illinois. They successfully migrated to Florida, where #3-04 was in Lafayette County with #2-04 and #12-04.

Spring 2007: Began migration March 18 (with #2-04 and #12-04).Confirmed roosting with #2-04 on Necedah NWR, on the night of March 26. In the summer he was hanging out with #W1-06. That changed on October 4 when wandering female #9-03, newly-captured-and-returned-to-Wisconsin, drove off the younger #W1-06 and paired up with #3-04. Everyone is hoping that the pair will stay together, migrate south, and that male #3-04 can convince wayward #9-03 to return with him to Wisconsin next spring.

Fall 2007: Crane #3-04 and #9-03, still together, left Wisconsin on migration on November 27. They were detected in Indiana on December 13. They arrived safely at their old Chass pen site in Florida on Jan. 3! They moved with #13-03, #18-03, and #6-05 to Sumter County on Jan. 6. The next day the group of five cranes took off and separated in flight. But #3-04 stayed with #9-03 as they moved to Madison County. Scientists hope they will stay together on a territory all winter — and that #3-04 can convince #9-03 to migrate back to Wisconsin (instead of New York!) in spring for the first time in her life!

Spring 2008: #3-04 and mate (#9-03) were tracked to their first overnight migration stop in Madison County, Florida, on February 28. They left the following day. They returned to Necedah NWR on March 27 and on March 30 were seen defending their territory against #13-02 and #18-02! HOORAY!! For the first time in her five springs #9-03 has completed migration to Wisconsin, thanks to #3-04! In more good news, the new pair #3-04 and #9-03 were observed April 9 sitting on a nest!

Aerial view of #9-03 (mate of 3-04) nest on April 23. Photo Sara Zimorski, ICF

On May 5, the pair was seen foraging together outside of their nesting marsh on the Necedah Refuge. “This was an indication that their nest had failed,” said Dr. Richard Urbanek. Only small eggshell fragments were found in the nest.

Fall 2008: Began migration from Wisconsin on November 17, along with mate #9-03 and also #20-05. The pair (still with #20-05) ended up in Lafayette County, Florida by late December.

Spring 2009: Male #3-04 (with mate #9-03 and crane #20-05) apparently began migration from Taylor County, Florida, between February 19 and 25. The pair #9-03 and #3-04 were confirmed on Necedah NWR on March 23. They built a nest and laid eggs that would hatch May 5 if they incubate them successfully. An infestation of black flies had driven all the other nesting pairs off nests by April 24, but #9-03 and #3-04 kept sitting. However, their nest also failed; it appears that black flies made it impossible for them to keep incubating in comfort. 

Fall 2009: #3-04 and mate #9-03 began migration from Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on December 7. No further reports until January 20 when an airplane tracking survey found them at home in a swamp in Lafayette County, Florida. Crane #16-04 was with them. They were there on Feb. 16 but gone by March 4.

Spring 2010: Migrating pair #3-04 and #9-03 were reported in Richland County, Illinois, on March 9-16. They were reported back on Necedah NWR by March 20 and were observed on a nest during an aerial survey on April 5. The nest failed April 11 and they renested again April 29-30. They were still incubating those eggs on May 28, so it looks like it might be successful! The wonderful news of TWIN chicks (#W1-10 and #W2-10) came on May 31! OM pilot Richard van Heuvelen first saw the parents with two chicks on May 31 when flying over the refuge to monitor nests for research purposes. Both parents appeared to be tending to the chicks. One chick (#W2-10) disappeared between June 6 and 7. The parents and surviving chick #(W1-10) remained in the general wetland area containing the nest.

Most of the adult Whooping Cranes left on migration November 23, 2010. Only nine remain on or near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, including the family group #3-04, #9-03 and their wild-hatched chick #W1-10.

Fall 2010: The family group #3-04, #9-03 and wild-hatched chick #W1-10 began migration November 25 or 26. They were detected in Lawrence County, Illinois on December 3. The family completed migration to their previous wintering territory at Lafayette County, Florida and were found during an aerial survey on December 21. They were in Taylor County, Florida during a survey flight on January 13, 2011. Trackers tried a ground search of this location on February 9 but the area proved to be inaccessible by ground. The family was not detected on an aerial search of the area on March 11.

Spring 2011: Parents #3-04, #9-03 completed migration north (with their juvenile, #W1-10) to Necedah NWR by March 21. The pair had two failed nesting attempts this spring. On April 30 two viable eggs were collected from the first failed nest to be incubated in captivity. The pair re-nested May 18. This nest failed May 28. Two eggs were rescued and transferred to the International Crane Foundation; no chicks for this pair this summer.

Fall 2011: Pair #3-04 and #9-03 and began migration between November 23 and 27. They were next reported in Wayne County, Illinois on December 30 in a warm winter when many crane in the eastern flock did not go all the way south.

Spring 2012: Male #3-04  and his mate #9-03 were detected in flight March 15 with several other Whooping cranes as they headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—getting close to Necedah NWR. They returned and were found with a nest on April 7! The pair incubated 35 days before leaving the nest. Their egg never hatched, so there were no chicks for this pair in summer 2012.

Fall 2012: He was captured Oct. 18 for replacement of his transmitter before fall migration. His original band colors remain the same.

Spring 2013: Male #3-04 completed spring migration with mate #9-03 back to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 29. By mid April they were observed on a nest. Like all but one of this season’s first nests, their first nest failed, but the rescued eggs were taken to ICF for incubation and hatched May 15 and 16. These became chicks #2-13 and #5-13 in the ultralight-led Class of 2013! In addition, this pair had nested a second time by May 31 and successfully hatched out baby #W3-13. DNR pilot Bev photographed the chick with one of its parents again on a July 23 aerial survey (below). Their chick #W3-13 was the only wild-hatched chick of 2013 to survived and fledge, and was still doing well in mid October, 2013.

#W3-13 was the only wild-hatched chick of 2013 to survive and fledge. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2013: The family completed migration to the adults’ previous wintering location in Wayne County, Illinois, by November 14, but their young colt, #W3-13, was last observed alive during an aerial survey flight on December 11. As of January, the colt was presumed dead. The parents migrated to Wheeler NWR in Alabama.

Spring 2014: Pair #3-04 and #9-03 began migration from Wheeler NWR in Alabama sometime after 29 January. Two birds reported in Wayne County, Illinois, on 21 February are believed to be this pair. They arrived back at Necedah NWR on March 29 or 30. This pair abandoned their first nest when a Black fly bloom occurred. The egg that was collected was sent to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to hatch. The chick turned out to be female #3-14!

Fall 2014: Pair #3-04 and #9-03 left Juneau County, WI, on fall migration between Nov. 6 and 9. They spent the first month or less at Wheeler NWR, Alabama and then moved to Wayne County, Illinois. The pair commuted between here and the private wetland area in northern Illinois as weather dictated.

Spring 2015: Pair #3-04 and #9-03 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin in March. They were seen May 22 on a nest. Experts removed those eggs but the pair re-nested and their second nest produced one (possibly two) chicks around June 2. One chick,#W18-15, fledged and survived the summer! Gender was undetermined, and the family was too elusive to let the chick be captured and banded before fall migration.

Fall 2015: Family group #9-03, #3-04, and colt #W18-15 were spotted November 10 in Wayne County (southern Illinois) in the private wetland area where the adults have spent the past few winters. A knowledgeable observer reported that if this year is like last year, the family may remain in the area as long as weather is milder and commute between there and Wheeler NWR in Alabama when weather becomes severe. Indeed, the family was observed in both locations as winter unfolded.

Family group #9-03, #3-04, and colt #W18-15 were spotted November 10 in Wayne County, IL. Photo:
Leroy Harrison

Spring 2016: The family of male #3-04, mate #9-03 and chick #W18-15 were spotted March 7, back in Richland County, Illinois. The family was in Wayne County, Illinois, as of March 21. The pair returned to Juneau County, WI where they nested and hatched new chicks #W13-16 and #W14-16. First seen May 28 and May 30 with the parents, the chicks did not survive the summer.

Fall 2016: Pair #3-04 and #9-03 migrated south and were seen at their wintering grounds in Richland County, Illinois, Nov. 11 and 12. During December, the pair were confirmed at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. They use both wintering areas, depending upon the local weather conditions. 

Here they are in February, 2017, on their Richland County, Illinois territory. Photo: Leroy Harrison

Spring 2017: Male #3-04 and mate #9-03 returned to Necedah NWR and were incubating one egg on their nest by early April! It is likely that a second egg was laid soon after the following photo was taken.

The photo shows male #3-04 taking his turn for incubating while his mate returns to the nest. Photo: Doug Pellerin

The pair re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight. On June 5 tiny W14-17 hatched and as of July 5 this chick is still surviving – A month old now!

Summer 2017: #3-04 was not found after an extensive aerial search.

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Crane #5-04

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: April 24, 2003
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Introduced to the trike at 7 days. Received 8 hrs & 55 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent WRC. Even though an older bird, got along better with birds much younger than himself. Easily intimidated by older birds and flew off by himself to avoid them.

Moved to a younger cohort (group) and did better when he towered over the smaller birds.

History

First Migration South: Fall 2004 – One of the seven who flew on day 1. Often called a troublemaker (along with #2-04 and #8-04). 

Death
The remains of #5-04 was found March 14, 2005 on a creek bank 200 meters south of the Florida pen. He was apparently killed by a bobcat during the night.

 
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Crane #6-04

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 4, 2004
Legbands: Died before receiving permanent bands.

Personality and History: Introduced to the trike at 8 days. Received 7 hrs & 18 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. Was the only female among her cohort of older chicks. Vigilant, wary, alert and a bit aloof. Example: She was reluctant to walk through tall grass into a new area, and stayed alert long after the other chicks settled down and started playing in the marsh. Likes the costume, but is too submissive to take treats offered with the puppet. Prefers the treats to be dropped on the ground instead.

History

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1. One of few females and one of the best birds! She fell ill on Day 62. She got medical help, but died on Day 63, one day before the migration ended. Cause was Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. This disease is spread to birds by infected mosquitoes.

 
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Crane #7-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 5, 2004
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 7 days. Received 7 hrs & 5 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Was often a “jerk” in his small group but got clobbered when he picked on the older #2-04, who then proved HE was boss.

History

First Migration South: Didn’t fly on Day 1 and dropped out on Day 2 but otherwise flew the remaining distance to Florida with the aircraft.

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on March 25, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin on April 4  — but they must not have thought they were home! On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #7-04 stayed with #1-04, #8-04 and #14-04. They returned to their previous roost in Fond du Lac County, WI but were next seen April 14 during an aerial search in Winnebago County, Illinois, in a harvested cornfield 1 mile south of the Wisconsin border. They roosted at this location and foraged in cornfields on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line until April 25. Then they flew northward to roost in Adams County, WI — 27 miles from Necedah NWR.  On April 27 they completed migration to Necedah NWR, then flew to nearby Yellow River Cranberry, just east of the Refuge, to join #12-03 and #16-03. They stayed there several days, but #1-04, #7-04 and #8-04 left the area on May 3 (after #14-04 was killed by a large predator during the night). On May 9 and 10, they were confirmed in southeastern Wisconsin. These three wandered into southeastern Minnesota in mid June, normal behavior for yearling cranes. During summer, #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 roosted together back at Necedah NWR.

Cranes #1-04, 7-04, 8-04 on Nov. 22, 2005.

Fall 2005: Cooler temperatures at the end of August prompted some early autumn staging/pre-migratory activity, and the three birds moved from Necedah NWR to Morrison County in central Minnesota. They were seen there on several dates up to Nov. 9. They were next sighted Nov. 22 in Washington County, Indiana—on migration! They were using the shallow edge of a lake and foraging in a harvested cornfield next to the lake. They roosted near Hiwassee NWR in TN on Nov. 24. On Nov. 24 they were in Sumter County, GA. On Nov. 30, cranes #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 completed migration when they arrived at the Florida pen site. They soon moved on to other nearby areas.

Spring 2006: Still with #1-04 and #8-04, he left Madison County, Florida, and flew into Georgia on March 9. They completed migration to Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR March 20. He must like Minnesota, because he and the younger #8-05 moved there the end of August. A PTT reading for #8-05 on the night of 8 September 8 indicated that #8-05 and #7-04 were in the southeastern MINNESOTA area where #7-04 had been at the same time last year (2005). They later moved to Marathon County, Wisconsin, where they hung out with a flock of sandhill cranes.

Fall 2006: Remained in Central Wisconsin with mate #8-05 until late November. Was not seen after November 29 in Marathon County, Wisconsin. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked. Then on Dec. 28 he was seen in Pasco County, Florida. He hung out with #9-03, #20-05 and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2007: Began migration from Alachua County, FL on March 19 (with female #9-03, with whom he paired with early in the winter). Her PTT readings indicated they separated on or before their stop in Indiana on March 23 or 24. Crane #7-04 was back at the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 29, alone. He was apparently unable to convince the wayward female to follow him back to the right place!

Crane #7-04 died before summer’s end. On September 13, 2007, the decomposed but otherwise intact carcass of #7-04 was found in dry sedge marsh at his Wisconsin territory on northeastern Meadow Valley Flowage. Tracking data indicated that death probably occurred during August 29-31.

He was last seen alive on August 20, the same date that the carcass of his mate (#2-05) was retrieved in the same general location.

 
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Crane #8-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 6, 2004
Legbands: Left: green Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 9 days. Received 7 hrs & 5 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. At first showed a bit of anxiety when the costumed caretaker left, but later grew mellow, low-key and laid-back. Loves treats. After the health check didn’t care about being handled and having a radio transmitter on his leg, so long as treats were being passed out.

History 

First Migration South: Often challenged for the lead position on the aircraft wing. On the Dec. 12 final flight, he nipped at the wing of the lead bird to challenge it to move over! Often called a troublemaker (along with #2-04 and #5-04).

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4.  On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #8-04 stayed with #1-04, #7-04 and #14-04. They returned to their previous roost in Fond du Lac County, WI and were gone when the site was checked on April 7. They were next seen April 14 during an aerial search in Winnebago County, Illinois, in a harvested cornfield 1 mile south of the Wisconsin border. They roosted at this location and foraged in cornfields on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line until 25 April when they proceeded northward to roost in Adams County, WI—27 miles from Necedah NWR. On April 27 they completed migration to Necedah NWR, then flew to nearby Yellow River Cranberry, just east of the Refuge, to join #12-03 and #16-03. They stayed there several days, but #1-04,#7-04 and #8-04 departed the area on May 3 (after #14-04 was killed by a large predator the night of May 2). On May 9 and 10, they were confirmed in southeastern Wisconsin. These three wandered into southeastern Minnesota in mid June, which is normal behavior for yearling cranes. During summer, #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 roosted together back at Necedah NWR.

Fall 2005: Cooler temperatures at the end of August prompted some early autumn staging/pre-migratory activity, and the three birds moved from Necedah NWR to Morrison County in central Minnesota. They were seen there on several dates up to Nov. 9. They were next sighted Nov. 22 in Washington County, Indiana—on migration! They were using the shallow edge of a lake and foraging in a harvested cornfield next to the lake. They roosted near Hiwassee NWR in TN on Nov. 24. On Nov. 24 they were in Sumter County, GA. On Nov. 30, cranes #1-04, #7-04, and #8-04 completed migration when they arrived at the Florida pen site. They soon moved on to other nearby areas.

Spring 2006: Still with #1-04 and #7-04 in’s Necedah NWR March 20.

Fall 2006: Male #8-04 began migration with female #1-05 on November 3rd. They roosted that night in Boone County, Illinois. They were in Kankakee County, IL on November 11-12. Successfully migrated to Florida, where #8-04 and female #1-05 remained together. They moved between Pasco County and Hernando County, FL. and visited the Chass pen site Jan. 12.

Spring 2007: Began migration March 19 (with #1-05 and #14-05). They arrived together at Necedah NWR on March 29.

Fall 2007: He left on migration with female #19-05 on November 27. Along with #12-05 and #19-05, completed migration and arrived in Florida on December 4. He was found with #14-05 and #19-05 in Hillsborough County, FL on Dec. 19.

Spring 2008: After wintering south of Tampa, #8-04, #14-05 and #19-05 were the first cranes to begin their journey north on February 26. A March 18 report of three whooping cranes in Morrison County, Minnesota, may have been these birds. Crane #8-04 (with #19-05) was confirmed back on Necedah NWR March 27. The pair was reported nesting on the refuge and it appeared on April 23 as if they had just begun to incubate, but the nest failed on or before May 5 when it was checked and found empty.
 

Sara Zimorski took this photos of the pair’s nest from a plane on April 23, 2008

Spring 2009: Began migration from Alachua County, Florida, on March 5 or 6, but his mate #19-05 was not with him. She was with him when he was next reported in Greene County, Indiana during March 9-15. #8-04’s signal was heard on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 19, and he and mate #19-05 were found April 8 incubating on a nest! (Nest failed before eggs could hatch when black flies tormented the parents off the nest.) In late May trackers located a possible re-nest of this pair but they did not become parents, and spent the rest of the summer in the same area.

Fall 2009: Crane #8-04 and mate #19-05 had not yet begun migration as of Nov. 30. They did migrate and spent winter in their old territory in Alachua County, Florida, where they remained at least until Feb. 16.

Spring 2010: Crane #8-04 and mate #19-05 were detected at Armstrong Bend, Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, on February 25. They arrived in Greene County, Indiana by March 14 and remained there until departure March 18-22. They were reported back on Necedah NWR by March 24 and observed on a nest during an aerial survey on April 5. No successful nesting.

Fall 2010: #8-04 migrated with his mate #19-05 to their previous wintering territory in Alachua County, Florida.

Spring 2011: Male #8-04 was reported alone on migration in Greene Co, Indiana on March 3, and his mate was still in Florida —where she was associating with a nonmigratory Whooping crane! Male #8-04 was confirmed back on their Wisconsin territory (without his mate) at Necedah NWR, on March 29. Soon he was associating with new female #8-09 on his old territory that he shared with his wayward mate #19-05. Meanwhile, she (#19-05) was migrating north to this same territory, and bringing with her the male from the Florida nonmigratory flock! What will happen when the old pair and the new pairs face off for the same territory? It didn’t happen, and the non-migratory male turned around and went home to Florida! Male #8-04 got his old mate (female #19-05) back again, and they built a nest on their usual territory. They began incubating on April 25 but their nest failed on May 9.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #19-05 to Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: He was assumed to be back with his mate when #19-05 was reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16, migration complete. They were found incubating on an April 26 nesting survey flight by trackers. The first nest failed but they nested again on May 14 and were still incubating May 29 but this nest later failed.

Fall 2012: Departed on November 17 with #19-05 and migrated to Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: Completed spring migration with #19-05 on March 30.

Fall 2013: Migrated after November 8 with #19-05 and they may have spent the winter in Greene County, Indiana, although trackers are not certain because both cranes have nonfunctional transmitters. They were in Greene County in mid January, so Tracker Eva assumes they stayed the winter.

Spring 2014: #8-04 and mate #19-05 completed migration to the Necedah NWR by April 1. They nested but by April 30 the nest had flooded and failed.

Fall 2014: Pair #8-04 and #19-05 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, where they have been seen associating with pair #9-05 and #13-03 and their adopted chick PR #20-14.

Spring 2015: Pair #8-04 and #19-05 completed migration to the Necedah NWR and nested, but did not have nesting success this spring.

Fall 2015: Male #8-04 migrated to Green County, Indiana and spent the winter associating with #W3-10 and young #65-15 DAR.

Spring 2016: Male #8-04 completed migration back to the Necedah NWR and during the summer paired with #W3-10. They nested and their first nest had two eggs removed as part of the forced re-nesting experiment. They did not build a second nest this summer.

Fall 2016: Pair #8-04 and #W3-10 were seen at Necedah NWR in early fall. The pair was reported on wintering grounds in Greene County, Indiana in late December.

Spring 2017: Male #8-04 and his mate #W3-10, both with non-working transmitters, had completed migration back to the Necedah NWR by early April and were seen with a nest on Bev Paulan’s aerial survey April 11. They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight. Their chick, number W9-17 hatched, however was subsequently predated by June 15.

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Crane #12-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 9, 2004
Legbands: Left: green/white/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 9-days. Received 9 hrs & 5 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent, where he did well with training from the beginning. Can be “a bit of a jerk” every now and then, but mostly is cooperative. Really scared of thunderstorms as a little chick. An insect bite on his face caused much swelling and he had to take medicine for weeks. Even so, his attitude and personality didn’t waiver; he never became afraid of the costume, and continued as the best flyer and follower in cohort 2, the middle group in age.

History 

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1. Was crated to the next stop on day 22. On day 48, he dropped away just 10 miles from the destination. By himself, he flew 80 miles south, then 80 miles north, landing 8 miles east of the morning’s departure site at the Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge!

Spring 2005: Stayed behind at the pen site when 11 flock mates left on migration 25 March. Began migration along with #4-02 and #5-01 on March 30. On April 3, the trio flew 13 hours, the final 3 hours in darkness, with #12-04 seeming in the lead. (Like Day 48 of the journey south!?) After those two older cranes left him on April 5, he joined up with older cranes #4-03 and #11-03 in flight over Indiana. The trio arrived in Wisconsin on or about April 6. They left their roost site in Sauk County, WI on April 7th and completed migration with a short flight to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge that afternoon. Crane #12-04 was the FIRST 2004 chick to officially arrive back at Necedah NWR! He separated from the two older birds and roosted that night very close to the training sites where he had “flight lessons,” but for most of the summer, cranes #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04 roosted as a group, often with sandhill cranes. They spent time in Columbia and Marquette Counties, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #2-04, #3-04, #16-04, and #17-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. On November 10th they were roosting at a central Tennessee location. According to tracker Lara Fondow, the five males landed at their former pen site in Florida at 2:05 November 17. They are the first Eastern flock whoopers to complete migration to the primary wintering area in west-central Florida this fall! With no free food at the pen, they wandered north the next day.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 27 or 28 in a group with #2-04, #3-04, #16-04 and #17-04. They were reported in Dane County, WI on March 31. They moved up to Necedah NWR to complete their migration on April 6!

Fall 2006: Departed Wisconsin on Nov. 19 (with #10-03, #2-04 and #3-04) and made it that night to NE Illinois. They successfully migrated to Florida, where #12-04 was in Lafayette County with #3-04 and #2-04.

Spring 2007: Began migration March 18 (with #2-04 and #3-04). Crane #12-04 has a nonfunctional transmitter, but he made it home! He was observed the morning of March 27 on Necedah NWR (with #16-02). He was briefly captured on April 1 and his transmitter was replaced.

Fall 2007: #12-04 began migration from Wisconsin on November 21 along with #7-03, #2-04, #11-05, #14-05, and #W1-06 (the flock’s only wild-hatched chick at this time). He was found with #2-04 and wintering sandhill cranes in Lake County, Florida, on December 19.

Spring 2008: began spring migration on March 17 with #2-04. Back at Necedah NWR March 30!

Fall 2008: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, crane #12-04 was in a group of eight (including first-timers #10-08 and DAR #37-08) that reached the border of southern Illinois and southern Indiana. The group stayed together in Gibson County, Indiana until Dec. 21, when they moved to White County, Tennessee.

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Crane #12-04 and DAR #46-07 separated from their group of 8 at a migration stop in Alabama. The two stayed and wintered in Alabama (Cherokee County) while the rest of the group continued to Florida.

Spring 2009: Crane #12-04 and DAR #46-07 began migration from Cherokee County, Alabama, on March 17 or 18. On March 19, DAR #46-07 was in Vermillion County, Indiana and trackers presume that #12-04 was still with her. The pair was confirmed back in Wisconsin by March 28 but then they separated. In June he was seen on the refuge with female DAR#27-05.

Fall 2009: Male #12-04 was seen in early October with female DAR #27-05 on Necedah NWR. She moved to Columbia/Sauk Counties, WI, where she was reported on November 26-27 and they wintered apart. He was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on December 12 and was back on his previous wintering territory in Cherokee County, Alabama, on January 5.

Spring 2010: He was detected on or near Necedah NWR during an aerial survey on April 5. A week later he was seen hanging out with female #27-05 (DAR) south of the refuge. They reunited and it seems #12-04 finally won her over.

Pair #12-04 and #27-05 DAR with their new chick #W6-10 in June 2010. Photo: Matt Strausser, ICF

It was an exciting discovery when the tracking team found that this pair began a nest south of Necedah May 17! They built a nest and took turns incubating two fertile eggs. During a monitoring flight, an Operation Migration pilot and expert egg spotter saw that one of their eggs had fallen into the water. The tracking team sprung into action. Although the nesting adults had done their best to push the egg back into the nest, it was the tracking team that placed the egg back in the nest. However, it was too late; the next day, only one chick (#W6-10) would hatch. The chick and parents were doing well but on June 30 mother DAR #27-05 DAR went missing. Father #12-04 and the chick stayed together. That’s when chick #W6-10, less than a month old, was called “super-chick” for its ability to cover ground with Dad #12-04. He and the chick often traveled back and forth between two ponds nearly a mile apart, perhaps looking for the female or avoiding a danger, and the little chick kept up. Sadly, the chick disappeared sometime between July 3-6. Since death of the chick, #12-04 has wandered on and off the territory. But his mate came back and reappeared with him on July 12.

Fall 2010: Male #12-04 and his mate again returned to Cherokee County in Alabama for the winter. His life was cut short by a gunman on January 28 when he was shot dead on his territory. An Alabama conservation officer discovered him. Federal wildlife officials are offering a $6,000 reward for arrest and conviction of the person who killed this bird. He was the fourth endangered Whooping crane illegally shot within a two-month time span. The death was announced on Feb. 9.

 
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Crane #14-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 14, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/white/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 9 days of age. Received 7 hrs & 37 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. He had an odd gait from the beginning and limps when speeding, but tries hard to keep up. Stubborn! He was a problem flyer who kept turning back or dropping out during training. Pilots left him all alone for 2 nights after his cohort 2 moved to cohort 3’s site. After that, he willingly followed the ultralight over to join his flock mates. On Sept. 15, he flew a training session with the “two little girls” (#19-04 & #20-04). He liked flying with them so much that he stopped dropping out! Kind of an underdog. 

History 

First Migration South: Dropped out and crated to the next stopover on day 15, along with #19-04 and #20-04.

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4.  On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #14-04 stayed with #1-04, #7-04 and #8-04. They returned to their previous roost in Fond du Lac County, WI and were gone when the site was checked on April 7. They were next seen April 14 during an aerial search in Winnebago County, Illinois, in a harvested cornfield 1 mile south of the Wisconsin border. They roosted at this location and foraged in cornfields on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line until 25 April when they proceeded northward to roost in Adams County, WI – 27 miles from Necedah NWR. 

On April 27 they completed migration to Necedah NWR, then flew to nearby Yellow River Cranberry, just east of the Refuge. On May 10 the remains of yearling #14-04 were found below the south reservoir of Yellow River Cranberry, Juneau County. He had apparently been roosting with #1-04, #7-04 and #8-04 in a small pool surrounded by vegetative cover on the night of May 2. He is believed to have been killed by a large predator there during that night.

 
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Crane #15-04

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 16, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 7-days. Received 7 hrs & 27 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. Gets along great with #14-04 and seems dedicated to the aircraft. Scared of thunderstorms as a little chick. She was the only female in cohort 2. Submissive, but always a great flyer and follower. She sometimes acts the same way with treats that #6-04 does. She seems too nervous to take them from the puppet, but quickly gobbles them up if they are dropped on the ground.

History 

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1.

15-04 in flight with two others on Nov. 8, 2004 while leaving Muscatatuck NWR, in Indiana. Photo: Joe Duff

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #15-04 stayed with #2, #3, #16, #17, #19 and #20 in Dane County, WI. They all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. She spent much time with sandhill cranes on or in nearby farm fields in Dane County, WI during the summer and fall.

Fall 2005: She was not found in her usual area on Nov. 17, a day when at least 18 whoopers began migration from the area. She was confirmed that night at Jasper-Pulaski SWA in Indiana! She roosted at Hiwassee NWR in TN on Nov. 24 and left on Nov. 25. She passed 3 male flock mates#1-04, #7-04 and #8-04 and roosted at a Georgia location farther south. She was in Madison County, FL on Nov. 26. She moved around, but remained in Madison County locations.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 25. PTT readings showed she roosted that night in Dooly County, Georgia; on March 26 in Gordon County, Georgia. She crossed Indiana the next 3 days, and completed migration on March 30!

Fall 2006: #15-04 was last reported in the staging sandhill flock in Adams County, WI during the last week of October. All were gone by November 4 and may have migrated. Transmitter doesn’t work so she can’t be tracked. A Whooping crane found with wintering sandhill cranes in Madison County, FL during an aerial survey Nov 22 is believed to be #15-04 as this is her usual wintering area. She was still there the end of December.

Spring 2007: A whooping crane believed to be #15-04 was last observed with a small number of sandhills in Hixtown Swamp, Madison County, on February 19. Her transmitter doesn’t work, and she cannot be tracked. No further reports have been received, but she is expected to be back in Wisconsin.

Fall 2007: Began migration from Columbia County, Wisconsin, after November 16. Her transmitter no longer works and she cannot be tracked. Reported in Ewing Bottoms, Jackson County, Indiana, on November 24 and 25. A bird with no signal was observed at Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on November 28 may have been #15-04. Next she was confirmed with #5-05 in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 2. They were still there the end of December.

Spring 2008: Female #15-04 (with male #5-05) began migration from Hiwassee WR in Meigs County, TN sometime between February 28 and March 2. They remained with migrating sandhills in Jackson County, Indiana, at least through March 18. The pair was back at Necedah NWR March 27. In April they were nesting, but by April 30 the nest had failed. The pair was seen foraging away from the nest area, and a nest check found only eggshell bits. Sara said, “It’s not surprising; this pair just formed this winter and neither bird had previous nesting experience.”

Fall 2008: She was seen walking abnormally on Nov. 5. During an unsuccessful capture attempt on Nov. 13, handlers saw a fishing line or similar debris tangled on and dragging from her left leg, interfering with her movements. She and mate #5-05 were still in Wisconsin in mid-November, but they successfully migrated south. They were confirmed in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2009: On March 8 female #15-04 and mate #5-05 left a migration stop in Jackson County, Indiana, where they’d been since March 5. They were the first whooper sightings reported for the spring 2009 migration. The pair was next reported in White County, Indiana, on March 12 and 13. By April 2 they were already observed incubating on a nest on their usual territory in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR! (The nest failed.) The pair remained in the core area all summer.

Fall 2009: Pair #15-04 and #5-05 disappeared from the Necedah NWR at the end of October, likely starting migration. They were found at Armstrong Bend, Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 13.

Spring 2010: Crane #15-04 (with #5-05) was reported in Lawrence County, Indiana, on February 26 – March 8. Both have nonfunctional transmitters. They were reported back on Necedah NWR on April 1 or 2 and already had an active nest by that time. The nest failed but a rescued egg was sent to Patuxent WRC in Maryland where it hatched on May 4 into female chick #3-10, a member of the ultralight Class of 2010!

Fall 2010: Migrated south with mate #5-05 to the pair’s usual winter territory at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee.

Spring 2011: Departed on migration from Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee in mid February with #5-05 and young #21-10 (DAR). They were next reported Feb. 26 in Hardin County, Kentucky and March 1 in Jackson County, Indiana. They made the final legs of their journey during the second week of March to arrive on Necedah NWR March 11. Pair #5-05 and #15-04 were sitting on a nest and incubating on April 10. Their nest failed April 29, and two fertile, viable eggs were collected. Both hatched in captivity and one egg became chick #9-11 in the Class of 2011. The other became a member of the new non-migratory Louisiana flock.

Fall 2010: Migrated south with #5-05 to Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2012: Pair #15-04 and #5-05 had completed migration back to Necedah NWR by March 14. They had a nest by April 17, but it failed on April 21. No chicks for this pair in summer 2012.

Fall 2012: Wintered again at Meigs Co., Tennessee with mate #5-05.

Spring 2013: Female #15-04 (with mate #5-05) arrived back on the nesting grounds of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 29. When she was not observed after May 11, trackers suspected she had died because a single bird (her mate) was observed on territory on May 14, and he was confirmed alone on their territory on June 21. All summer her mate had been consistently observed on the pair’s old territory, but with a new female. in September, trackers presumed #15-04 was dead and removed her from the flock’s population totals.

 
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Crane #16-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 17, 2004
Legbands: Left: white/green/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics:  

Migration Training: Introduced to the trike at 8-days. Received 2 hrs & 57 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent WRC. Missed many days of training at Patuxent due to respiratory infection, bowed hocks, and then a broken toe or foot from being stepped on). A cast was applied and he missed taxi-training until the toe healed. Mark said, “The little guy still trucked right along with all the rest of them.” Cast was removed mid-July at Necedah. Now Follows well. Good flyer and “just another great bird.”

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1.

History

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Stilll together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #16-04 stayed with #2, #3, #15, #17, #19 and #20 in Dane County, WI and they all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. During the summer, cranes #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04 roosted as a group, often with sandhill cranes. They spent time in Columbia and Marquette Counties, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, and #7-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. On November 10th they were roosting at a central Tennessee location. According to tracker Lara Fondow, the five males landed at their former pen site in Florida at 2:05 November 17. They are the first Eastern flock whoopers to complete migration to the primary wintering area in west-central Florida this fall! With no free food at the pen, they wandered north the next day.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 27 or 28 in a group with #2-04, #12-04, #3-04 and #17-04. They were reported in Dane County, WI on March 31. They moved up to Necedah NWR to complete their migration on April 6!

Fall 2006: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 19 (with female #9-02) and made it to NE Illinois or NW Indiana. Next reported in Newton County, IN, but had left (with #9-02) by Dec. 3. He remained with sandhill cranes in Jackson County, Indiana until the first week in February, 2007. He and the other 3 whoopers in Indiana moved on when the coldest arctic air mass of the season chilled the Midwest. No reports since.

Spring 2007: Crane #16-04 (and mate #9-02), who wintered in Indiana, were back in Wisconsin March 13-16 and building a nest! They didn’t stick with this one, but later built another in which they laid an egg. Their active nest was confirmed in Monroe County on April 15, but the nest was not successful. The pair took off and has not been detected since May 27.

April 15, 2007: Nest of 16-04 & 9-02. Photo Richard Urbanek

Fall 2007: Male #16-04 and mate (#9-02) migrated from Wisconsin on November 22. They remained in Jackson County, Indiana through the end of December.

Spring 2008: Male #16-04 and mate #9-02 began migration from Carroll County, Georgia, on February 2. Two birds believed to be this pair were reported on their territory at Monroe County Flowage on March 30, and identification was confirmed on April 7. Soon they were nesting! The first nesting attempt failed when a broken egg was found April 14, 2008. Female #9-02 was found to be limping severely with her right leg when the pair’s territory in Monroe County was checked April 23 and again in early May. During an aerial survey on July 1st, only the male was spotted. The female #9-02 was never seen again and was removed from the population totals.

Fall 2008: Crane #16-04 was observed near the refuge on October 10, but he has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked. There is no record of his fall migration location.

Spring 2009: A lone crane reported at Necedah NWR on March 20 is presumed to be #16-04. He was on the territory that used to belong to him when his mate #9-02 was alive. He remained in the core area, unpaired, all summer.

Fall 2009: He was observed during migration in Jackson County, Indiana, on December 30. He was next found in Lafayette County, Florida (with pair #3-04 and #9-03) during an aerial survey flight on January 20. They were there on Feb. 16 but gone by March 4.

Spring 2010: Migrating crane #16-04 was reported with #27-05 (DAR) in Newton County, Indiana, on March 15. A single bird with a nonfunctional transmitter was observed on his territory on Meadow Valley SWA in Juneau County, WI, during an aerial survey on April 5 and is probably #16-04. A single male, presumably #16-04, was heard alarm calling on that territory on April 19.

Fall 2010: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09  began migration December 1. They were the last to leave Necedah NWR, staying until the bitter, snowy end of November. They were likely the two reported reported in Shelby County, Illinois on Dec. 6 with cranes #12-07, #17-07 and #31-08 (DAR). Four of these cranes were detected together in flight through western Kentucky on that same day.

Spring 2011: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 were photographed at a Lawrence County, IL migration stopover before they resumed migration. They were first to reach home! Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 were seen at 2:10 on March 9 back on Necedah NWR. “They may have arrived yesterday before last night’s snowstorm. Refuge pools remain frozen and snow-covered,” reported biologist Richard Urbanek. (These two were the last to leave Necedah NWR last fall and they returned before the snows cleared in the spring!) The pair was observed nest building but without successfully nesting.

Fall 2011: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 migrated to Parke and Vigo Counties, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 were detected on Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete! They were on a nest by April 14 or 15. Aerial trackers next reported the pair was apparently provisioning at least one chick (this would be #W6-12). On a May 21 tracking flight, trackers saw the pair off nest and they appeared to be tending a chick, but it had disappeared by the June 15 nest check.

Fall 2012: Wintered with #4-09 in Vermillion County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 completed spring migration and were photographed walking along a still frozen stream near their territory in central Wisconsin on March 27, 2013 by pilot Bev Paulan during an aerial flight.

Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

By late April or early May they were reported nesting! This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, but they later abandoned their nest and did not hatch chicks this summer.

Fall 2013: Cranes #16-04 and #4-09 were likely the two cranes reported in Vermillion County, Indiana, on November 16. By January 4 they had moved to Knox County, Indiana and were still there on January 31.

Spring 2014: Pair #16-04/#4-09 arrived back on territory in Monroe County, Wisconsin, by/on March 21. They nested and the nest was still active when checked on April 30! But sad news came on May 5, when the female #4-09 was found dead. Her body showed no signs of predation, but the health lab said the cause of death was blunt trauma to the body. Will #16-04 take a new mate?

Fall 2014: Crane #16-04 left the Necedah area Oct. 24 and wintered in Gibson County, Indiana with #26-10 DAR and #7-09.

Spring 2015: Male #16-04 was seen back in the Necedah area during a March 25 aerial survey.

Fall 2015: Male #16-04 was first reported in Indiana on December 12, 2015. He spent the winter moving around quite a bit in southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois.

Spring 2016: Male #16-04 was first reported back on the breeding grounds on March 29th, 2016. He was back in the Necedah area, alone.

Fall 2016: In early September #16-04 was associating with #W18-15 at Necedah NWR. The young crane briefly went back to Juneau County to associate with its parents, but then returned to Necedah and #16-04 by the end of October. He and #W18-15 left Juneau County, WI after Nov. 25 and migrated in December to wintering grounds in Knox County, IN and were still there as of March 1, 2017.

Spring 2017: Male #16-04 and #W18-15 (gender still unknown) returned to Wisconsin and were seen at Necedah NWR by the end of March.

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Crane #17-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 17, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/green/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 9 days of age. Received 6 hrs & 32 min. of aircraft conditioning while at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Was not scared of thunderstorms like other chicks, but was reluctant to follow aircraft on training flights. Swamp Monster used Aug. 19/20 to encourage him. He improved and soon flew 30-minute excursions with the ultralight! Gets along great with #18-04. Follows the plane well.

History 

First Migration South: One of the seven who flew on day 1.

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4.  On April 6 the group of 11 split. Chick #17-04 stayed with #2, #3, #15, #16, #19 and #20 in Dane County, WI and they all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. During the summer, cranes #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, #16-04, and #17-04 roosted as a group, often with sandhill cranes. They spent time in Columbia and Marquette Counties, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #2-04, #3-04, #12-04, and #16-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. On November 10th they were roosting at a central Tennessee location. According to tracker Lara Fondow, the five males landed at their former pen site in Florida at 2:05pm November 17. They are the first Eastern flock whoopers to complete migration to the primary wintering area in west-central Florida this fall! With no free food at the pen, they wandered north the next day.

Spring 2006: Began migration on March 27 or 28 in a group with #2-04, #12-04, #3-04 and #16-04. They were reported in Dane County, WI on March 31. They moved up to Necedah NWR to complete their migration on April 6!

Death: The remains of #17-04 were found on Wisconsin’s North Gallagher Flowage, Sandhill SWA, on June 18, 2006. The mortality site contained no standing water. Predation is suspected, as tooth marks on the legs are consistent with those of a coyote.

 
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Crane #18-04

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 19, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/white (PTT) Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Introduced to the trike at 8 days of age. Received 6 hrs & 30 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. Gets along great with #17-04. Follows the plane well, but is a runt and bully! Likes mealworms so much that he chases off the older, larger chicks to get the worms. Once got beat up by #12-04 for biting its wing hard. Primary feathers began falling out early in August. Traveled in a crate (he couldn’t fly without primary feathers) to join flock mates when cohorts 2 and 3 joined together on Sept. 3. Doctors hope a new set will grow in so #18-04 can continue flight training and be included in fall migration. It didn’t happen. He also showed less interest in the costume and ultralight—a worrisome situation. The team decided just before migration that #18-04, who has plenty of confidence and spunk but could not complete the necessary ultralight conditioning, will not migrate with flock mates. Instead he will be left behind in hopes that he’ll join up with some experienced ultra-whoopers on the refuge and follow them to Florida, thus learning the route. This has worked with sandhill cranes. Will the older ultra-whoopers accept him? Or will they drive him off or battle him?

History

First Migration South: On November 7 he left on migration with yearling #7-03, an older crane who knows the way. The two landed to roost in west-central Indiana. Unfortunately, #7-03 then took off again. The next day the airborne tracking team followed #18-04’s signal and saw him flying in a flock of Sandhill cranes. Then they also noticed another whooping crane in the flock! Unable to detect any other radio signals, they concluded that his travel mate was the only crane among the 35 wild birds that is not trackable because of a dead battery in her transmitter. It’s the elusive female #7-01 from the very first ultralight-led migration!  But as roost time neared, #18-04 landed along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, while #7-01 kept going. Both stayed at their chosen locations on Nov. 9th due to poor migration conditions. On Nov. 10 at 9:45 a.m., #18-04 lifted off with a flock of sandhill cranes. They arrived in early afternoon at the Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN. Later in the day #18-04 foraged within 1/4 mile of females #7-01 AND #1-02. He shouldn’t have any trouble locating others of his kind; including him, SEVEN of the Eastern flock’s glowing white whooping cranes are now at this crane-friendly refuge in Tennessee—halfway to Florida. He was still at Hiwassee with 4 older ultracranes when this year’s chicks completed their migration on Dec. 12. He resumed migration from Hiwassee with #5-02 on December 19th. About January 3 they finally settled in Pasco County, FL near where #5-02 spent last winter. They are on a ranch where ultra-cranes #11-02, #12-02 and #17-02 are wintering. Male #18-04 was the first crane in the eastern migratory flock to successfully complete fall migration to Florida by following older Whooping cranes.

Spring 2005: This young male was left alone after #5-02, an older male he had been hanging out with over the winter, departed on migration from their Pasco County, FL wintering site sometime between March 9 – 12. Crane #18-04 was then either alone or with single or paired non migratory sandhill cranes. He likely began migration on April 18, as PTT data on April 19 put him in Forsyth Co., GA. PTT readings put him in Scott County, Indiana on the nights of April 22-27. He moved to Fulton County, IN on April 28. He stayed there until May 8 when he flew to Cook County, IL. On May 10, he left a stop in metro-Chicago (Cook County, IL) and migrated to Washington County, WISCONSIN! Left Dodge County and arrived Necedah NWR May 16. Migration complete!

On June 14, he joined females #19-04 and #20-04.

On July 16, 2005, his remains were found by tracker Lara Fondow under an electrical transmission line in a cornfield in central Wisconsin. His death, caused by collision with the power line, likely happened between July 1 – 11. 

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Crane #19-04

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 29, 2004
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: white/green

Migration Training: Introduced to the trike at 9 days. Had 8 hrs & 10 min. aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent WRC. The “2 little girls,” #19-04 and #20-04, got airborne for their first short flight August 19. After all cohorts were blended on Sep. 20, she showed that she hates #3-04 by taking every opportunity to go over and give him a beak jab. By the end of September the “2 little girls” could fly 36 minutes at 500 feet altitude! She has real ATTITUDE for her small size, and is “the little girl you don’t wanna mess with.” Only the biggest males stand up to her, and she is probably in the top 3 or 5 birds in the social order! Stubborn, independent. This little gal is a daughter of Gee Whiz!

History

First Migration South: Dropped out and crated to the next stop on days 15 and 22. But the two little girls did well; when they tired and dropped back, another ultralight swooped in to fly with them. They often had their own plane and got help from the currents off the ultralight’s wing. A very good bird, along with #14-04 and #20-04.
Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. On April 6 the group  of 11 separated. Chick #19-04 stayed with  #2, #3, #15, #16, #17 and #20 in Dane County, WI and they all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3.  During the summer she was often with sandhill cranes and #20-04 in farmlands of Columbia County, WI. and a marsh with sandhill cranes in Marquette County, WI.  

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #20-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. They reached Madison County, Florida on Nov. 15–the FIRST of their cohort to reach Florida without the ultralight to lead them! They stayed the winter in Madison County, FL.      

Spring 2006: Began migration with #20-04 on March 28. PTT readings for that night were from Butts County, Georgia and on March 29 in Tennessee. By March 31, they had arrived at the same spot where #19-03 and #20-05 were located, and stayed at least through April 2. The two completed migration to Central Wisconsin on April 8. By April 10 the two birds had separated, and #19-04 was found with sandhill cranes on a cranberry wetland in Wood County, WI.

Fall 2006: Left on migration with #12-02 on Nov. 30. The two were not seen again until February 19, 2007 when they were seen on Okefenokee NWR in Georgia during an aerial survey. They were not with sandhills.

Spring 2007: Seen February 19 on Okefenokee NWR in Georgia with #12-02 during an aerial survey. A pair observed in Wood County, Wisconsin on March 19 may be this pair (awaiting confirmation). Yes, they made it back!

#19-04 and #12-02 on winter territory. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski

Fall 2007: Pair #19-04 and #12-02 left on migration November 22, 2007. Found on Hiwassee WR in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 1. Continued migration to Okefenokee NWR, Georgia, on December 3. Ended up later in Pasco County, FL.

Spring 2008: Began migration with mate #12-02 from Pasco County, Florida, on March 6. On April 24 Sara Zimorski sent exciting news: “Both of these birds have non-functional transmitters but the nest location is between their two main use/territory areas, I detected no signals in the area, and there are really no other possible birds this could be. This was a particularly good and important find because we hadn’t yet confirmed these two back in Wisconsin, even though we suspected they were back and likely nesting.”

Sara took this photo from the plane. See the crane sitting on the nest? Photo :Sara Zimorski, ICF

The nest of #12-02 and #19-04 in Wood County failed in early May. A nest check found one undeveloped egg that was infertile. The pair had no further nesting activity this summer.

May 5, 2008 nest check.
Photo: Richard Urbanek

Fall 2008: Pair #19-04 and #12-02 cannot be tracked but were found on their previous wintering territory in Pasco County, Florida, on January 9. Trackers tried to capture the pair to replace their transmitters on February 20 and and again on March 4, but failed both times to catch these birds.

Spring 2009: Pair #19-04 and #12-02 departed on migration on March 4 when trackers were trying to capture them to replace their radio transmitters. However, they were found at the Chassahowitzka pen site that night and finally captured for transmitter replacements on the following morning. They resumed migration from the pen site on March 6. The pair was detected in northbound flight over Tennessee on March 8 and Kentucky on March 9. They were on course toward a favorite stopover in Greene County, Indiana, where they spent March 13 -March 21. They completed migration to Wisconsin by the end of March. The pair was found April 9 on a nest, incubating! The nest failed when black flies tormented the parents off the nest, but by May 21 the pair was re-nesting about 50 meters west of their previous failed nest.

Here’s what happened:
On June 12 they hatched a chick at their nest site in Wood County, Wisconsin! The chick that hatched was from a captive produced egg from ICF. The pair’s own eggs were both infertile. ICF’s Sara Zimorski and Eva Szyszkoski checked the pair’s eggs July 11 to see if they were fertile. When it was discovered that neither egg would hatch, Sara and Eva switched the pair’s two eggs for one fertile egg from ICF. That egg is now chick #W1-09! (W is for “wild,” 1 is hatch order and 09 is the hatch year).The pair is extremely attentive to their new chick and appear to be naturals at parenting, reports ICF’s Joan Garland.

Parents #12-02 and #19-04 with their chick on June 24, 2009. Photo: Jessica Thompson, ICF

This is the first chick for this pair, and only the second time Whooping cranes have hatched in the wild in this reintroduction project. Unfortunately, the chick disappeared between July 12 and 15. Everyone was very sad that the summer of 2009 did not produce any surviving wild chicks.

Fall 2009: She and her mate #12-02 began migration on November 15, a day with clear skies and north winds to help push them south. Ten whoopers began migration the same day. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana, on November 20, where they remained at least until the end of November. The pair returned for the winter on their old territory in Pasco County, Florida.

Spring 2010: She and mate #12-02 began northward migration on March 8. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana, on March 11 and stayed until March 18-22. They were reported back on their Wisconsin territory in Wood County March 20-21! They already had a nest by April 5 but by April 14 the nest had failed. It was the last of 9 of this summer’s nests to fail. What a disappointment. But cranes often try nesting again. Sure enough, By May 9-11, this pair had renested! On June 6, ICF aviculturist and tracking team co-leader Sara Zimorski, along with ICF field manager Eva Szyszkoski replaced the pair’s two infertile eggs with one fertile egg from captivity. With the trade complete, they became parents of a newly-hatched chick (#W3-10) on June 7. Hooray!!!!! They were good parents and by the end of August their chick was seen in flight with them. On October 7 the chick was captured away from its parents for banding and a health check, then released back to the parents.

The family on August 30, 2010. Photo Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

#19-04 and mate #12-02 with their newly banded chick on Oct. 7, 2010.
Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2010: The Wood County family (#12-02, #19-04 and their chick W3-10) began migration on November 4! They flew all the way to the parents’ regular stop in Greene County, Indiana!The family remained there until the morning of December 6. They were next found during an aerial survey on December 13 on the adults’ wintering territory in Pasco County, Florida—migration complete! Well done, new parents! They taught their chick lessons in finding food and good roosting throughout the winter.

Mom #19-04 & Dad #12-02 with #W3-10 in Florida. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski

Spring 2011: Pair #12-02 and #19-04 and their juvenile #W3-10 began migration from Pasco County, FL sometime between Feb. 19 and 23. They were reported March 1 in Greene County, IN. The family stayed at least through March 5. On March 23, tracker Jen sent word: “I just heard signals of the Wood County family (#W3-10, and parents #12-02 and #19-04) over Baraboo, Wisconsin!” The family was back on their Wood County territory March 25. Two days later they moved to another location where the adults left the chick before returning to their Wood County territory. As of April 3rd,#W3-10* remained in the area she was left by her parents. The adults began incubating a new nest on April 13. The nest failed May 15, with 2 infertile eggs collected after overlong (32 days) incubation.

Fall 2011: The pair #19-04 and #12-02 wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Female #19-04 and mate #12-02 were detected in flight March 15 with several other Whooping cranes as they headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—close to Necedah NWR. They were found with a nest on April 2. They hatched a chick—the first wild-hatched chick of the eastern flock’s 2012 season—on April 30! The chick (#W1-12) was observed by tracker Eva Szyszkoski of ICF. The parents have consistently laid eggs, but the eggs have been infertile. Not his time! They proved to be good parents in 2010 when they hatched and raised #W3-10 to fledging—one of only three fledged chicks in the WCEP population (see photo above in spring 2010). Parents #12-02 and #19-04 are shown below with chick #W1-12 as a new hatch (April 30, 2012) and again at age 37 days (June 6, 2012). Chick #W1-12 still survives as of July 6, 2012.

Photos: Eva Szyszkoski/ICF, with aerial support from Lighthawk

Photos: Eva Szyszkoski/ICF, with aerial support from Lighthawk

Fall 2012: Male #12-02 and mate #19-04 were observed along with their youngster #W1-12 in Indiana on December 12.

Chick #W1-12 arrived in Indiana with parents 19-04 and 12-02.

The pair did NOT continue migration to their usual winter territory in Pascoe County, Florida, but spent the winter in Indiana. The photo below was taken in February 2013 by Steve Smith. Female #19-04 at the left, chick #W1-12 in the middle, and father #12-02 on the right.

Photo captured by Stephen Smith in February 2013.

Subadult #W1-12 (left) and mother #19-04 (right) in March on their Indiana wintering grounds.

Spring 2013: Female #19-04 and her mate #12-02 completed spring migration back to Wood County, Wisconsin on April 2 along with their offspring from last summer, male sub-adult #W1-12. Will this pair raise another chick this summer? By mid April they were already sitting on a nest! The nest was observed by pilot Bev Paulan on an April 16 flight over crane territory, but the nest failed on May 5 and they did not re-nest. No chicks this summer for this pair.

Fall 2013: Pair #19-04 and #12-02 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, where they were reported on January 26.

Spring 2014: Pair #19-04 and #12-02 were confirmed back on their territory in Wood County, Wisconsin, on 28 March. They were sitting on a nest in Wood County, WI when observed in mid April. On May 13 tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed that the pair hatched chick #W3-14! By July, their chick was the only survivor of the wild-hatched chicks of summer 2014.

Chick #W3-14 and parents 19-04 and 12-02.

Female #19-04 went missing from her territory in Wood County, Wisconsin, between the evening of 16 August, when she was last observed alive, and the afternoon of 20 August, when she was first discovered missing. Her transmitter recently failed, tracking her was impossible. By September she was suspected dead and was removed from the population totals of the Eastern Migratory Flock. (As of Oct. 3, her mate and offspring had remained in the area).

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Crane #20-04

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 3, 2004
Legbands: Left: green/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – The youngest. Introduced to the trike at 9 days. Received 6 hrs & 20 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. Small but very determined to follow the trike. The “2 little girls,” #19-04 and #20-04, got airborne for their first short flight August 19 – long after the oldest chicks. By the end of September the “two little girls” could fly 36 minutes at 500 feet altitude! Mark says “#20-04 is the cutest little sandhill-sized ‘pigpen’ of a whooper you could ever ask for. Very tiny, and sometimes walks around all hunkered down, making her even smaller. But when she wants to, she struts her stuff with her buddy, #19-04.” Likes to eat field mice and is the first to nab any that happen to be in the fields as soon as the birds land at a new area.

History 

First Migration South: The two little girls did well, and when they tired and dropped back, another ultralight swooped in to fly with them. They often had their own plane and got help from the currents off the ultralight’s wing. Considered a very good bird, along with #14-04 and #19-04 in her “trio.” 

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. They continued migration on April 5 but it was cloudy so they landed in Fond du Lac County. On April 6 the group  of 11 separated. Chick #20-04 stayed with #2-04, #3-04, #15-04, #16-04, #17-04 and #19-04 in Dane County, WI and they all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. During the summer she was often with sandhill cranes and #19-04 in farmlands of Columbia County, WI. and a marsh with sandhill cranes in Marquette County, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #19-04. They made it to Indiana the first day. They reached Madison County, Florida on Nov. 15–the FIRST of their cohort to reach Florida without the ultralight to lead them! They stayed the winter in Madison County, FL.      

Spring 2006: Began migration with #19-04 on March 28. PTT readings for that night were from Butts County, Georgia and on March 29 in Tennessee. By March 31, they had arrived at the same spot where #19-03 and #20-05 were located, and stayed at least through April 2. The two completed migration to Central Wisconsin on April 8. By April 10 the two birds had separated. PTT readings indicated that #20-04 was in Clark County, WI. According to PTT readings, she was in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, until April 27. She then flew to Aitkin and Mille Lacs Counties, Minnesota. PTT readings indicated that she returned to Chippewa County, Wisconsin,
on May 2. She later joined sandhill cranes and remained with them on a lake in Rusk County, WI.

Fall 2006: #20-04 began migration with sandhill cranes on November 9. She passed through Central Wisconsin and then diverted eastward to roost that night in Dodge County. She resumed migration and roosted on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA in Indiana on November 11-12. Stayed in Indiana until the first week in February, 2007 and moved on when the coldest arctic air mass of the season chilled the Midwest. She was next observed with a few thousand sandhill cranes in Jackson County, Indiana on Feb. 23.

Spring 2007: She was still in Jackson County, Indiana with sandhill cranes through March 6. Her signal was detected at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR by the refuge datalogger on March 18, but no other reports or sightings after that. Trackers will soon fly over the area to see if they can locate her.

Fall 2007: Female #20-04 was found with sandhill cranes in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, during a check on September 26, 2007, but she wasn’t there at the last check on October 14. She was next confirmed on Jasper-Pulaski FWA in Indiana on or by November 22. She left the following day and arrived on Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on November 24. She is still there, and guess who was with her in early December? Young DAR #46-07! This direct-release chick needs someone to show the way to Florida after getting lost, captured and brought to Hiwassee by the trackers. Will #20-04 lead the 5-month-old chick to a good winter home?

Crane #20-04 with DAR #46-07 at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge stopover in Tennessee. Both cranes stayed in the area all winter.
Photo Richard Urbanek

Spring 2008: Female #20-04 male #5-01 were reported in a flock of sandhills in Warren County, Kentucky, from March 6 until they resumed migration on March 8. They were detected March 30 on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin, but trackers reported on April 8 that the pair bond between #5-01 and #20-04 established during the winter had dissolved. They separated during or at the end of migration. She was reported with sandhill cranes in Clark County, at the usual summering location of female #28-05 on March 30, but was gone by the next day.

Fall 2008: Crane #20-04 was confirmed in a large flock of staging Sandhill cranes in Rusk County, WI on Oct. 22. Reports of a Whooping crane at the same location on Oct. 29 and Nov. 3 and 8 were probably her. She migrated south and was last confirmed in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 19.

Spring 2009: No reports for spring migration from her wintering place in Tennessee. Her transmitter does not work so she cannot be tracked. Then in April 2009, her remains were discovered in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. 

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