Class of 2007

 

 

Two release methods were used in 2007: Ultralight-guided (Group One) and Direct Autumn Release (Group Two). 

Group One – Ultralight-guided Whooping cranes
3-07

Presumed dead ’13

6-07

Presumed dead ’10

7-07 9-07

Died May ’10

10-07

transferred to captivity ’10

12-07

Presumed dead ’14

13-07

Presumed dead ’12

14-07

Died ’08

16-07 17-07 21-07

Died ’08

22-07

Presumed dead ’13

24-07

Presumed dead ’10

26-07

Died May ’15

27-07

Removed ’13

33-07

Died Dec ’13

35-07

Transferred to Captivity ’08

Group Two – Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Whooping Cranes
36-07

Died Nov ’07

37-07 39-07 40-07

Died ’09

41-07

Died Oct ’07

42-07

Died Spring ’11

43-07

Died Mar ’08

44-07

Presumed dead ’10

45-07

Died fall ’07 after release

46-07

Died Aug ’12


All Whooping cranes released in 2007 under the aircraft-guided method 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 13, 2007 and ended 97 days later on January 28, 2008.


 

Crane #3-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 29, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – He was an eagle-eye from the start, able to pick up the tiniest morsels of food from the carpet. He went on his first walk on May 10 with #2-07 and #3-07 tried as hard as he could to be taller than #2-07—a funny sight! On May 29 he didn’t like it when #6-07 cuddled up to “his” mama (Bev in her costume). He ran over and drove #6-07 back in the water and away from Mama with a sharp peck to the head! He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24 he was flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length of the grass runway, with a few others keeping up with him.

On July 31 the oldest birds of Cohort 1 flew two circuits with the pilot, with #3-07 locked right on the wing. The pilot said, “I could have probably taken him for an extended flight.” He made steady progress all summer. The oldest chick in the flock is a good, strong flyer! Not only is he the strongest, but he’s often in first position off the wing of the plane during training. He can fly farther and longer than any of the other birds.

On moving day (September 24, when #3-07’s cohort joined with the other two groups), #3-07 refused to land. He kept flying! He’d break for home again every time the pilots managed to get him close to the new pen site. The two pilots chased #3-07 back and forth about three times. The bird had been airborne for 41 minutes by the time he finally landed at his new home. He’s got the endurance for migration!

History 

First Migration and Winter South: Chick #3-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He is the the oldest, the fastest, and the strongest flier in this group of 17 young cranes. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more details about #3-07 below. 

Oct. 28, Day 16: During today’s flight, #3-07 decided he wanted to lead. Pilot Richard said, “Pulling in the bar, I attempted to catch him but he persisted. The other five, not wanting to be left behind, kept up. Eventually the trike and six birds were approaching fifty miles an hour air speed!”

Nov. 3, Day 22: #3-07 once again charged ahead of the ultralight in what has become his signature move. Today pilot Brooke claimed #3-07 looked back at him with that “Make My Day” grin on his face as he took over the lead from the plane. Brooke rose to the challenge, but #3-07 seems to like challenging his human leaders.

Dec. 4, Day 53: #3-07’s wish to be Top Bird gave Joe some challenges in today’s flight. Joe said, “Several times during today’s flight, #3-07 and I did battle. I bumped him several times, cut in behind him and once even pushed up hard when he was above the wing. I could see his shadow flat on the upper surface as I pancaked him. He slid off the tip and into the number 3 position, and for the next 20 minutes my job was easier.” Joe tells more about #3-07:

“That bird will drive you crazy. I’ve never met a more aggressive Whooping crane. As soon as I walk into the pen, he begins stalking me. . . Twice now I have used my height to back #3-07 down and then chased him around the pen with the beak of my puppet nipping at his back. His reaction is to poke at some lesser bird in a simple case of displaced aggression.

“In the air, #3-07 is aggressive to the aircraft. To them we are just another bird. In their formation flight, the leader is the most aggressive member who pushes his way to the front. Most of the birds are content to hang behind the wing and take advantage of the free ride, but #3-07 can only do that for a few minutes. Then his rebellious nature takes over and he begins to fly above, below or in front of the wing. He calls to the rest of the flock and leads them off in other directions. If number #3-07 is leading, the pilot must work a lot harder than if any other bird is up front.”

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but a day for exercise. After flying in the misty air and running around in the rain, it was time for the birds to go back into the pen. Walt got 13 chicks back in the pen, including #3-07, but they didn’t want to be there. #3-07, being the oldest and cleverest, hassled Walt (in costume) while the others kept sneaking out the door. It was as if #3-07 was saying to the rest of the chicks, “I’ll distract him, you guys go for it!”

December 17, Day 66: Cranes have good eyesight. During today’s attempt to cross the mountain ridge, the pilot reported #3-07 was “surfing my left leading edge and kept looking down at the assembly of people, or more likely the semi-trucks passing by 500 feet below us.”

December 29, Day 68: Crossing the Cumberland Ridge today, #3-07 decided to take over the lead from Brooke— just as he’s done on every flight the two of them have made together! Brooke said, “It’s just his thing, I guess, but he’s good at it. He can maintain his position with relation to the trike within an inch or two. I only allow him this privilege when it’s glassy calm as rough air is too risky. . . He looked back at me occasionally as if for assurance that he was doing it right, but of course there’s no need, because he was. Millions of years of evolution have seen to that. It is I who is the ground-bound student and I am only the feeblest of visitors in his world. I’m not about to tell him that, however. At least not until migration is over.”

January 17-18; Days 86 & 87: The birds must be getting cranky. They were picking on #3-07 in a common dominance battle. There can be a few scrapes, so the team separated #3-07 until everyone calmed down. On the 18th, the third no-fly day in a row, they took pity and let him out first to see how he did. He strutted his stuff like nothing ever happened. Said Bev, “In other words, he was a good boy.”

January 28, Day 97: Crane #3-07 did not make the final flight (to the Chass pen) today. He sustained a minor injury a few days ago and the pilots worried whether he would be able to fly the distance. (He probably picked on one or more of his pen mates once too often and they fought back, or maybe he ran into the fence in an attempt to get out.) An injured crane, even though it’s the biggest in the flock, becomes a target for aggression by the other cranes. They picked on him so much that the team was afraid for his life. So, after the Health Team completes the health checks of the rest of the Class of 2007 at Chass, #3-07 will be checked. If he gets the okay, he will be transported to join his flock mates at their winter home in the space of the larger release pen — where there should be enough space for him to avoid the aggression — and, if he can’t regain his position in the dominance structure, at least he can be accepted back in.

Feb. 2, 2008: #3-07 was moved to the Chass pen site. The team crated him, moved him in the van to Crystal River, transferred him to an airboat, and placed him in a pen separate from his flock mates. Eventually he will be released with the rest of the birds. After he has recovered physically, the team hopes he will regain some of his natural aggression and again find a place in the flock. There should be enough space in the release pen for him to avoid the birds that pick on him the most, but the winter monitoring team will watch him closely to keep him safe.

February 5: #3-07 rejoined the flock.

Feb. 25: Although he now ranks low in the social hierarchy, #3-07 has healed from his earlier wing and chest injury. “He can fly quite well now,” says Sara. “He flies every day as he gets chased out of the pen (usually by #21-07) and then spends time outside before either flying back in or being put back in by the caretakers. He is bigger than some of the other birds, including #21-07, but he no longer has the spirit to fight back or defend himself. He is very wary around the other birds. Sometimes he can be around them without a problem, but they often displace him from the feeders and the water guzzler.”

“Crane “#3-07 is easy to identify by the one loose feather on his right wing” said caretaker Sara Zimorski.

March 13: “Crane #3-07 seems to be fitting in better with the rest of the flock,” reports Sara from the pen site. “He still gets picked on, but it seems to have decreased. We don’t find him outside by himself much anymore. He’s more often in with a small group of birds — or at least closer to them. Finally, I even saw him take a jab at a bird the other day; he wasn’t being particularly mean but it was nice to see a little bit of “attitude” out of him!”


Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates and made it to Worth County, Georgia. Four of the six stayed together (#3-07, #7-07, #9-07 and #14-07) and #10-07 and #22-07 flew off nearby. All six resumed northward migration the next morning, March 26. On March 30, #3-07 was found alone, still in Bledsoe County, Tennessee, but about 5 miles away from where one of his group (#14-07) had been killed by a predator. On April 11 #3-07 continued his northward migration to Macon County, TN, where he was forced to land due to rain. One night he roosted in a flock of Canada Geese! On April 15 Eva tracked him to Montgomery County, IN. He continued to move April 16 but his signal was lost in the Chicago area.

#3-07 in Tennessee

#3-07 made it back to Wisconsin.

He was next reported in Monroe County, Wisconsin, on April 20. He remained at this location until April 23, when he flew just southwest of the refuge. Tracking interns Eva and Colleen tracked him throughout the day, and passed him over to Anna at 1:30 pm. He continued southeast, and ended up in Columbia County. “He will likely remain at this location for a few days, and then continue his period of wandering,” said Anna. His migration is considered complete, and he wandered in Juneau County and neighboring counties. In late May he was with #12-04, #12-05, #27-06, #28-06, and #7-07. He departed this location by May 26. He wandered all summer, and spent time in southeastern Minnesota. PTT readings in September showed he was still there with #7-07, #39-07 (DAR), and #42-07 (DAR).

Fall 2008: #3-07’s group headed south Nov. 15 from Minnesota. A high-precision PTT reading for female #39-07 (in the Minnesota group with #7-07, #3-07 and DAR #42-07) indicated a migration stop near St. Clair County, Illinois, on the night of November 16. This group wintered in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Spring 2009: PTT data from DAR #39-07 (and presumably her group with #3-07, #7-07, and DAR #42-07) put her (and probably the others) in Madison County, Alabama on the night of March 19 and in Marshall County, Kentucky on the night of March 22 as they migrated north. Confirmed back on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 26-27. A Whooping crane reported in Big Stone County, Minnesota, on September 15 was photographed on 22 September 22 and tentatively identified as #3-07. He had last been detected in Wood County, Wisconsin, on August 11.

Fall 2009: #3-07 began migration on November 3 and was reported in northwest Indiana on Nov. 5. A further report of a single whooper at Hiwassee Wildlife REfuge in Tennessee on Nov. 9 was likely this bird. He was reported back on his former wintering grounds in Lowndes County, Georgia, on November 22.

Spring 2010: Male #3-07 and female #38-08 (DAR) were found together in a partially flooded cornfield in southern Wood County, WI during an aerial survey on April 5. In July they were still together: “Hopefully this will be a potential breeding pair next year,” said Eva. 

Fall 2010: At the end of November, male #3-07 was reported on the same private lands in Lowndes County, GA, where he has spent much time in the past couple of winters. Four Whooping cranes have spent considerable time on the property of this landowner over the winter months. The landowners sent this Thanksgiving Day photo of #3-07 with #38-08 (DAR).

3-07 with 38-08 in Lowndes County, GA

Spring 2011: Left Georgia March 8 with #38-08 (DAR) and they were back in the Necedah, WI area by March 21. They built a nest and probably began incubating April 12. Their nest failed on May 4 and they did not attempt another nest this summer.

Fall 2011: Male #3-07 and his mate #38-08 (DAR) were on their winter territory in Lowndes County, Georgia, by December 4! The Georgia landowners who host them and also pair #7-07 & #39-07 (DAR) on their property each winter, said: “In the four years that they have been coming, we have worked hard to maintain and encourage an estuary in the back of our pasture and return the land the way it was before we ever moved here. We are now home to several varieties on waterfowl. Last year we even had 3 Sandhill cranes move in, but I haven’t seen them this year.”

#3-07, #7-07 and #39-07 (DAR). Photo: Susan Braun

#7-07 & 39-07 (DAR) and #3-07 & #38-08 (DAR) in Feb. 2012. Photo: Susan Braun

Spring 2012: When #3-07’s mate, female #38-08 (DAR), was detected the evening of March 11 on Necedah NWR, it was assumed that #3-07 was with her; he has a non-functioning transmitter. Sure enough: This pair had the first confirmed Whooping crane nest of the season! Bev Paulan of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conducted an aerial tracking flight on March 26 and located pair #3-07 and #38-08 (DAR) incubating on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, but they abandoned their nest on April 4. They began incubating a second nest April 23 and continued to incubate it past full term. The eggs never hatched and the pair left the nest.

Fall 2012: He was captured Oct. 23 and his transmitter replaced before migration. His original band colors remain the same. He and his mate #38-08 (DAR) completed migration about 4 pm on November 29, reported the Georgia landowner whose farm they visit in winters along with pair #7-07 and #39-07 (DAR).

Male #3-07 disappeared on his wintering territory in Lowndes County, Georgia, after December 17, when he was last observed alive. On December 30, 2012, his mate (#38-08) was seen without him, and she has been regularly observed alone or with the second pair that is also wintering in the area. No remains have been found for #3-07, but by early January 2013, trackers suspected his death. ICF’s Eva Szyszkoski noted, “There is no way he would just leave his mate like that,” and he was removed him from the population total.

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Crane #6-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 1, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – He was born hungry. He had such a big appetite that he almost bit the beak off the puppet on the first feeding! He gets cranky when he’s hungry, but otherwise he’s a sweetie. On May 29, Bev (in costume) said, “I looked down, and there was #6-07 trying to burrow under my arm. I moved my arm and he nestled right in against my side and lay down.” Later that day, he was one of the birds that discovered how to take a bath. With wings flapping and neck dipping, he soon had water rushing across his back, under his wings and over his tail.

He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one (the 8 oldest chicks). By July 24, he was flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length of the grassy runway, along with 3 of the other oldest chicks. By July 31 he was flying two circuits with the ultralight! He continued to be a strong flyer and outweighed all the chicks at the pre-migration health check in September.

He’s always one of the last birds to go back into the pen after training. He is independent and seems to like being alone. On September 15, #6-07 flew alone with Richard’s plane to a height of almost 1,000 feet. It looked like he was having a lovely time all by himself with the ultralight!

History  

First Migration South: Chick #6-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration.

Crane #6-07 started getting his adult voice during the first half of the migration! It changed from a peep to a honk, which seemed to scare him at first. Now he has gotten used to his new sound and seems to like it. He was the second bird (after #7-07) to start getting his adult voice. He is a dependable flyer and loyal to the aircraft. He didn’t make any “headlines” during the migration because he did exactly as the team hoped he would! Go, #6-07!

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07, #27-07, and #33-07) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2, and once again afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them, including #6-07, landed in Stewart County, Georgia. Unfortunately, #27-07 dropped out about 6 miles south of the other four. On April 3rd, the four males (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07 and #33-07) continued migration to DeKalb County, Alabama. On April 5, the group became three males as #33-07 took off by himself.

Tracker Eva Szyszkoski took these photos of #6-07, #12-07, and #13-07 in DeKalb County, Alabama.


The three remained at the DeKalb County stop through April 9, when they took off again. They flew until they encountered north winds, and landed about noon in a flooded cornfield in Knox County, Indiana. On April 15, a perfect day for migration, the three birds flew about 290 miles and arrived in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. On April 16 they continued straight north for at least 200 miles— and their signal was lost near the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. No further reports until April 30 when they were detected in flight north of Necedah NWR and proceeded to roost in Wood County, WI. Migration complete, one day short of #6-07’s first birthday!

Photo Bill Gausman

#6-07 wandered in his first “free” summer. Together with #12-07 and #13-07, he was reported in North Dakota in early June and in Minnesota in September, among Sandhill cranes.

Fall 2008: Crane #6-07 began migration November 15 from Marathon County, Wisconsin along with #12-07 and #13-07. On Nov. 17 the group was seen heading south from a migration stop near Indianapolis, Indiana. The three wintered in Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2009: Cranes #6-07, #12-07, #13-07, and #33-07 remained in Polk County, Florida at least through April 4. On April 17 three of them (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07) completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Cranes #6-07 and #12-07 were together May 6. Crane #12-07 later showed up in Burnett County Wisconsin, without #6-07. He still had not shown up by the end of November.

Fall 2009: Still missing (since May 6, 2009).

Summer 2010: Still missing, male #6-07 was presumed dead and removed from the total count of the Eastern flock.

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Crane #7-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 2, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: green/red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Despite starting out as a “pee-wee,” #7-07 became a big strapping (and dominant) adolescent. He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24 he was flying at least part of the length of the grass runway, with just four birds flying stronger and longer than him. By September he was doing great and was way ahead of the other chicks in a surprising way: his voice started changing! His voice is getting deeper, and he is making fewer “chick cheeps.” Instead, he “purrs” like the crane contact call that he hears from the puppets and the loudspeaker on the ultralight plane.

History  

First Migration South: Chick #7-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! 

Crane #7-07 is the first of the 17 chicks to start getting his adult voice. His voice began changing from a peep to a honk at the second stop of the migration! He has been a good flyer and follower, doing no mischief and being just a great bird.

In December on a no-fly day, Megan had the birds out when an animal came over (we’ll say it was a turkey). The rest of the group started walking towards it, but #7-07 was separated from the group. He started alarm calling and came over to her. She thinks he wanted to help Megan bring the others away from “danger.” Megan said, “I could see right down his throat, which was pretty neat.”

Crane #7-07 has completed every single flight without dropping out. Arrived on the wintering grounds January 28, 2008 after the longest migration in the UL flock’s history.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates and made it to Worth County Georgia. Four of the six stayed together (#7-07, #3-07, #9-07 and #14-07) and resumed northward migration on March 26, to Bledsoe County, Tennessee.

#7-07, #10-07 and #22-07 in TN. Photo: Anna Fasoli, ICF

On March 28, #7-07 left the group and joined up with #10-07 and #22-07. The three migrated to Morgan County, Indiana on April 8. On April 9 they were migrating, and by April 10 they arrived in Jasper County, Indiana. On April 12, PTT data indicated they were in Lake County, Illinois. On April 13 they moved to McHenry County, Illinois, 30 miles west of their previous roost. They remained there through April 19. The group resumed migration on April 20 or 21. On April 21 they passed east of Necedah NWR and roosted that night in Waupaca County, Wisconsin. At 9:30 a.m. on April 23 they headed towards Necedah NWR, landing in nearby Jackson County at approximately 4:30pm. MIGRATION COMPLETE! He wandered all summer, and spent time in southeastern Minnesota. PTT readings in September showed he was still there with #3-07, #39-07 (DAR), and #42-07 (DAR).

Fall 2008: #7-07’s group headed south Nov. 15 from Minnesota. A high-precision PTT reading for female #39-07 ( in the Minnesota group with #7-07, #3-07 and DAR #42-07) indicated a migration stop near St. Clair County, Illinois, on the night of November 16. The group wintered in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Spring 2009: PTT data from DAR #39-07 (and presumably her group with #3-07, #7-07, and DAR #42-07) put her (and probably the others) in Madison County, Alabama on the night of March 19 and in Marshall County, Kentucky on the night of March 22 as they migrated north. Confirmed back on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 26-27. On April 22 nest building was confirmed for #7-07 and DAR #39-07. This is a good sign, but they are still too young to lay eggs. Next they wandered back into southeastern Minnesota, where they spent much of last summer and fall — but they returned to the core area in Wisconsin between wanderings.

Fall 2009: Male #7-07, along with female DAR #39-07, was reported in Waseca County, MN in early October. Based on PTT readings for DAR #39-07, they remained there throughout the month; however, no visual sightings of the pair were reported. Further PTT readings for DAR #39-07 indicated that she and #7-07 were still present in Steele County, Minnesota, on the night of November 24, but that migration had begun by November 30, when they were at an overnight stop in McLean County, Illinois. They continued migration on December 3 and roosted that night in Greene County, Indiana. They departed on Dec. 4 and completed migration to their previous wintering grounds in Lowndes County, Georgia, on December 7.

PTT readings from March 30 indicate that female #39-07 DAR, the mate of #7-07, is back in the area of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin and trackers assume male #7-07 is still with her. By April 20 the pair had moved back to Minnesota. They came back to Wisconsin by the end of April but continued to wander back to Minnesota. They were reported in Minnesota’s Goodhue County on September 13 and were later observed in flight headed SW.

Fall 2010: Male #7-07 and female #39-07 (DAR) were seen in Minnesota’s Le Sueur County on Nov. 12. By Nov. 29 they had completed migration to Lowndes County, Georgia. Here they are in the same location as #3-07 and #38-08 (DAR). The landowner sent this photo to Operation Migration:

Spring 2011: Began migration from Georgia March 8. Male #7-07 was reported back in the Necedah NWR area by March 21 with mate #39-07 (DAR). They soon built their very first nest and began incubating two eggs April 25. Their nest and eggs failed May 4.

In September the pair was again reported in Rice County, Minnesota. They have a history of moving into Minnesota in the summer or fall every year (except for last 2010 when they molted and were unable to fly for about 6 weeks). Tracker Eva says: “They will most likely begin migration south from Minnesota and will not return to Wisconsin before then.” Sure enough, they were reported in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, on October 2-5.

Fall 2011: Male #7-07 and his mate #39-07 (DAR) were on their winter territory by December 4, according to the Georgia landowners who have hosted them for the past four years. The pair usually shows up just before Thanksgiving. This year, due to drought conditons, they have started staying at a nearby pond. The landwowner wrote: “In the four years that they have been coming, we have worked hard to maintain and encorage an estuary in the back of our pasture and return the land the way it was before we ever moved here. We are now home to several varieties on waterfowl. Last year we even had 3 Sandhill cranes move in, but I haven”t seen them this year.” Also sharing this territory are Cranes #39-07 and #7-07. The female “adopted the Sandhills and it was fascinating to watch her ‘mother’ them,” said the landowner. By early February, the two pairs of Whooping cranes had come back from the neighboring pond, much to the delight of the landowner.

7-07 & 39-07 (DAR) and 3-07 & 38-08 (DAR) in Feb. 2012 Photo Susan Braun

Spring 2012: Male #7-07 and his mate #39-07 (DAR) were detected on March 11 on Necedah NWR, migration complete! On April 15 tracker Eva observed one bird standing and preening on what looked like a nest platform while the other bird foraged nearby. Their nest with two eggs was confirmed on April 17! The eggs should have hatched on May 16. On May 21, trackers reported that one of the two eggs was brought back to ICF where the egg was found to be infertile. The pair continued to incubate the other egg but it never hatched and the pair left the nest: No chicks this summer.

Fall 2012: Pair #7-07 and #39-07 (DAR) arrived about 4 pm on November 29, reported the thrilled landowner on whose farm they spends winters in Georgia. They hang around the pasture most of the time. The pals that arrived with them, pair #3-07 and #38-08 (DAR), come and go from the pasture. After Dec. 17, the group was missing male #3-07 (his fate is unknown) but his mate remained with pair #7-07/#39-07 (January photo below, right).

Females 39-07 and #38-08 with male 7-07 in Jan. 2013 after #38-08’s mate disappeared.

Females #39-07 and #38-08 with male #7-07 in Jan. 2013 after #38-08’s mate disappeared.

Spring 2013: Male #7-07 and his mate #39-07 (DAR) were spotted March 19 near Pecatonica, IL. on their spring migation north! They left Georgia the previous week, and were reported back at Necedah NWR on March 29! Female #38-08 (DAR) was migrating with them and likely returned with them too. The pair was late in nesting but did not hatch out any chicks. Two eggs were recovered from their nest after they incubated them for a full five days beyond the expected hatch date, but eggs were not viable.

Fall 2013: Male #7-07 and his mate #39-07 (DAR) were “home for Thanksgiving,” reported the Georgia landowner on whose land the crane pair has a winter territory. The pair arrived Nov. 20. “We have made sure they will be happy on the pasture and won’t feel the need to investigate elsewhere this year. One area is very marshy, with deep enough water in another part and plenty of high-and-dry areas in between.”

Spring 2014: Male #7-07 and mate #39-07 (DAR) migrated back to Wisconsin and nested in Juneau County. The nest was still active as of April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Male #7-07 and mate #39-07 (DAR) migrated to their wintering home and were once again “home for Thanksgiving,” reported the Georgia landowners who welcomed these cranes back to their property for the 8th year. With the cranes on arrival Nov. 23 was their adopted juvenile female #19-14, a chick from the parent-reared (PR) program. PR chicks are hatched and raised initially by their captive parents and then later released in the wild near adult pairs in hopes they will be adopted by them and learn the eastern flock’s migration route. Chick #19-14 was released near this reliable pair before fall migration. They did indeed adopt her and lead her south to their winter territory. Well done, crane family! “They seem to be awesome parents,” observed the landowners.

Spring 2015: Male #7-07 and mate #39-07 (DAR) were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey. The pair remained at their wintering location in Lowndes County, Georgia, with parent-reared #19-14 until beginning migration on 7/8 March. Satellite readings indicated roost locations in Jackson County, Alabama, on 8-13 March; Logan County, Kentucky, on 15 March and Daviess County, Indiana, on 17 March. They completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, on 19 March. The adult pair’s first eggs were removed April 16 by biologists in a forced re-nesting program, and their second nest produced chick #W21-15 on June 2. The chick was seen alive on June 23, but did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Male #7-07 and mate #39-07 (DAR) migrated for the 9th year to their usual wintering home, once again thrilling the Georgia landowners with their Thanksgiving week arrival:

Spring 2016: Male #7-07 and mate #39-07 (DAR) were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 30 aerial survey. They were observed on a nest on May 5. It appeared the eggs were infertile or not viable, as they were still sitting when the nest was overdue. No chicks, and the pair later parted.

Fall 2016: Male #7-07, now with female #32-09 (DAR), was still in Juneau County, WI as of Dec. 4. On January 4, 2017, two Whooping Cranes were observed near Leesburg, GA. The observer got a glimpse of partial bands and experts suspect the pair could be #7-07 and #32-09 DAR. If it’s so, will the pair head to the former territory of #7-07? The landowners are alert as they watch and hope. 

Spring 2017: Male #7-07 returned to Necedah NWR with new mate #32-09 (DAR) and the new pair had their first nest by April 5! They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight, however, by May 15th they were off the nest and no eggs were seen.

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Crane #9-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 5, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: green/white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – On May 16 the trainers introduced #9-07 and #10-07 for the first time. There was a lot of bill pecking, with #9-07 finally coming out on top after their 20-minute walk. He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24, he was flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length of the grassy runway, along with 3 of the other oldest chicks. By July 31 he was flying two circuits with the ultralight! He gained steadily in endurance and he follows well.

History 

First Migration South: Chick #9-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #9-07 below.

Nov. 16, Day 35: Crane #9-07 had been a terrific flyer every day, but midway through today’s flight #9-07 began tugging with his beak at the batten string flopping at the end of Brooke’s aircraft wing. Time after time, he clamped his beak down on the string, then thrust skyward, pulling the string and the wing up. Brooke said, “This caused a bump in flight which I had to immediately correct by pulling down slightly on the wing. This became a game between us: he tugged, I corrected, he released the string but only to fix completely on it until it was again in his beak—and I again corrected.” It didn’t take long for Brooke to grow tired of #9-07’s little game! Luckily, #9-07 finally turned his attention back to flying without mischief again.

Nate says #9-07 picks on him sometimes. His bill is a little overgrown, but isn’t causing too much concern.

Crane #9-07 completed every flight without ever dropping out — until Day 92.

Today was tense and wild. Poor flying conditions developed soon after takeoff and soon came the worst crane rodeo of this migration. The planes popped in and out of the fog (something that spooks the birds) as the pilots searched hard for a place to land early.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates and made it to Worth County Georgia. Four of the six stayed together (#9-07, #3-07, #7-07 and #14-07) and resumed northward migration the next morning, March 26, to Bledsoe County, TN. Crane #9-07 had not been detected since his radio signals were received on the evening of March 26. The group may have scattered after their traveling mate #14-07 was killed by a predator; #9-07 may have continued north on his own, or he may be farther away. Trackers learned the answer when his signal was picked up at 1:00 pm April 4 — over Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin! He was the first of the Class of 2007 to complete migration to Wisconsin — but wait! He overflew and kept going. His signal was lost and he has not been seen again for another ten days. Sara said, “This is typical behavior for returning UL juveniles. They often pass over the refuge and then move around a lot before settling back down for the summer near the refuge.” Crane #9-07 was confirmed on Wisconsin farmland on April 14!

Fall 2008: Cranes #9-07, #10-07, 17-07, #22-07, and #26-07 wintered in Hernando County, Florida.

Spring 2009: Began migration March 24 from Hernando County, Florida with #17-07 and #26-07. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. Male #9-07 and female #17-07 were among the birds that followed #10-07 to the nearby ethanol plant to get the spilled corn. This is a dangerous situation because of all the humans and activity, but luckily this pair did not return to the ethanol plant after the too-tame #10-07 was captured and relocated to a zoo in Florida. Crane pair #9-07 and #17-07 remained in the core area all summer.

Fall 2009: Sub-adult pair #9-07 and #17-07 were still on the Wisconsin refuge as of Nov. 15 but they did migrate and spend winter at their previous territory in Hernando County, Florida.

Spring 2010: Male #9-07 (with #17-07) began migration from Florida on March 19-20. PTT readings for #17-07 on April 1 indicated return to Necedah NWR, and #9-07 was also observed on Necedah NWR on that date. On June 3 ICF Tracking Intern Matt Strausser and Operation Migration pilot Richard van Heuvelen discovered the decomposed carcass of #9-07 in a pine woodland 1 mile south of the southeastern Necedah NWR boundary. The area was not crane habitat, and #9-07 may have dropped while airborne. He was last observed alive on May 22 and was apparently dead by May 24, the next date when his mate (#17-07) was observed alone. The carcass will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, for necropsy. Cranes #9-07 and #17-07 had stayed together since they were members of the training Class of 2007. The two birds were old enough to become a possible breeding pair in 2010; however, they did not establish a territory.

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Crane #10-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 7, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/white/green 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – He has two siblings in the Class of 2007. They are #14-07 and #26-07, both females. In the first weeks, #10-07 was the tank that plowed through everything! In a pool, his swimming was compared to a jitterbug lure. On May 16 the trainers introduced #9-07 and #10-07 for the first time. There was a lot of bill pecking, with #9-07 finally coming out on top after their 20-minute walk. He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. But soon he developed a fear of the great outdoors. The sound of the aircraft engine excites him and he charges out like the rest of the birds, but then he stops short and doesn’t want to leave the pen area or get near the airplane. This behavior affects the other chicks, so the pilots put the scared bird back in the pen and he misses his training time with the other birds. However, the pilots come back and give him lots of mealworms to coax him out for a training session by himself. Rather than start the engine and add to his dismay, they pulled the aircraft along as a guide. After some days of that, #10-07 eventually calmed down. One happy day #10-07 was first out of the pen and eager to follow with the rest of the flock — but soon he “forgot” and wandered into the marsh with #12-07. It took 20 minutes of coaxing to get them back.

The pilots decided to give #10-07 and the other stubborn birds a few days off. It worked! By July 24, #10-07 was flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length of the grassy runway, along with 3 of the other oldest chicks. By July 31 he was flying two circuits with the ultralight! He made steady progress and was flying more than 20 minutes by the end of August and 30 minutes by mid September!

History

First Migration South: Chick #10-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #10-07 below.

October 13, Day 1: #10-07 took off with Joe and 5 other birds but dropped out in a marsh on the refuge. Brooke later returned in search of him and #10-07 joined Brooke in flight. See a photo story about #10-07’s first migration day! 

October 25, Day 13: #10-07 dropped out and flew his own way soon after take-off. Search parties on ground and air went into action to find him! He gave them quite a workout. His signal was strong when he was on the ground, but he kept taking off and thermaling upwards to soar on the day’s rising columns of warm air. Tired trackers decided to wait for sundown so thermals wouldn’t be a temptation for the young bird. Finally they captured him and put him in a box to join his flockmates!

#10-07 checks out a pumpkin on Halloween! Photo: Operation Migration

October 28, Day 16: Same story: #10-07 left his fight line with the ultralight and took off on his own, soaring on thermals. The search was on. Charlie and Bev finally captured #10-07 and drove him to the new site in Green County. This is getting to be a habit!

Nov.1, Day 20: Finally! #10-07 stayed with the flying flock the whole distance today!

Nov. 4, Day 22: #10-07 behaved well today, too. But here’s what Brooke said as he glanced over at #10-07 in flight: “He stays like a statue out on that invisible vortex of lift, looking over at me with pure contempt, a thought balloon above his head saying “Better make this ride a smooth one, baby, ’cause if you don’t, I’m out of here for the rest of the day!”

Nov 10, Day 29: #10-07 was the last bird in the line of 16 with Joe, and that means he had to work harder to keep up. After flying about 5 miles, he did a quick turn and made a beeline back towards the pen. But the chase pilot soon caught up with the wayward bird and got #10-07 turned back on course, 1 mile behind the others. And #10-07 had a nice flight as the only bird, getting a nice lift from the aircraft wing.

Jan. 23, Day 92: In a wild and heart-stopping day for most of the birds and team, only #10-07 and Brooke made it all the way to the Gilchrist County stopover.

Jan. 28: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates. That night they landed in southwestern Georgia, and soon #10-07 and #22-07 split off from the others (#3-07, #7-07, #9-07, #14-07) to land a few miles away. The two resumed migration on March 26 to Bledsoe County, TN, and were joined there on March 28 by #7-07. The three migrated to Morgan County, Indiana on April 8. On April 9 they were migrating, and by April 10 they arrived in Jasper County, Indiana. On April 12, PTT data indicated they were in Lake County, Illinois. On April 13 they moved to McHenry County, Illinois, 30 miles west of their previous roost. They remained there through April 19. The group resumed migration on April 20 or 21. On April 21 they passed east of Necedah NWR and roosted that night in Waupaca County, Wisconsin.
At 9:30 a.m. on April 23 they headed towards Necedah NWR, landing in nearby Jackson County at approximately 4:30 p.m. MIGRATION COMPLETE!

Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #9-07, #17-07, #22-07, and #26-07.

Spring 2009: Trackers think that #10-07 left Florida on March 18 with #22-07, who was in Randolph County, AL by the night of March 19 and Champaign County, Illinois on the night of March 22. The signal of #22-07 (and presumably #10-07 with her) was detected on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 23 and both birds were confirmed on the refuge March 24.

June 3, 2009: Crane #10-07 was captured and removed from the new Eastern flock to go live at the Lowry Park Zoo in Florida. He was removed because he has been visiting the ethanol plant in the town of Necedah and had gotten completely tamed to people and vehicles. The tracking team also grew worried that #10-07 was attracting other birds to the area, all of them eager to eat the piles of spilled corn. This unfortunate situation was ultimately caused by the woman who fed him corn in Florida last winter when he was hanging out in her backyard. The homeowner ignored the Team’s please do NOT feed or try to attract Whooping cranes.

For the safety of the cranes, they all must remain wild and avoid all humans and human activities; this is why it is urgent to leave the cranes alone and never tempt them with food. Now #10-07 will be introduced to Whoopee, Lowry Park Zoo’s lone female Whooping crane. The staff members are sure that #10-07 will be a celebrity, helping to spread a conservation message and a warning of the dangers of tameness. He may not be able to fly but he will be well loved, live longer, eat better, enjoy good health and spend the rest of his days with his new mate. Maybe you will visit him someday! We hope you will remember the extreme measures it took to get #10-07 into the wild and also the two round-trip migrations he made to Florida and back on his own. As Joe Duff said, “It seems a shame that he will never fly again. But maybe his fate will reinforce our message that kindness kills wildness and Whooping cranes need a place of their own.”

Oct. 2009, Lowry Park Zoo: Now known as “Kernel,” #10-07 now lives with “Whoopie,” an adult female Whooping crane. Their home is a large natural exhibit shared with four endangered Key deer. Kernel did super well with gradual introductions to the exhibit and other animals. Kernel and Whoopie seem to like each other. They have been observed wading in shallow water side by side, digging and foraging, and displaying the crane mating dance.

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Crane #12-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 9, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 12-07 was shy as a tiny chick, and often peeped for its parent. Being one of the youngest in his group, he often lagged behind the others a little, but followed the trike quite well. When he and #13-07 were socialized together as little chicks, #13-07 was dominant over #12-07, who never seemed to recover from it. He is/was probably one of the more submissive birds in cohort 1. “In fact, I can’t recall a single time that he’s ever shown aggression towards me,” said Megan. Chick #12-07 came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24 he could fly a good distance in ground effect.

By the end of August, most of #12-07’s group of 8 chicks flew very well for more than 20 minutes at a time. But #12-07 sometimes turned back early and landed back at the pen. On Aug. 31, ALL eight chicks in this group stayed together in the air for more than 20 minutes! But the next day #12-07 dropped out again. He needs watching!

First Migration South: Chick #12-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #12-07 below.

Oct. 13, Day 1: #12-07 was one of many birds who didn’t want to follow the plane across the highway and away from the refuge on departure day. He turned back to his familiar pen site where pilot Richard, helped by noisy Swamp Monster (Bev), convinced the bird to stay with the plane and fly to a new place.

Crane #12-07 proved a good and brave flyer after that. He was always ready to go, completed all the flights, and performed well!

#12-07 pecks at some pumpkin in the pen on December 14, 2007. He still has some “rusty” chick coloring.
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (#12-07, #13-07, #6-07, #27-07, and #33-07) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2, and once again afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them, including #12-07, landed in Stewart County, Georgia. Unfortunately, #27-07 dropped out about 6 miles south of the other four. On April 3rd, the four males (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07 and #33-07) continued migration to DeKalb County, Alabama. On April 5, the group became three males as #33-07 took off by himself.

Tracker Eva Szyszkoski took these photos of #6-07, #12-07, and #13-07 in DeKalb County, Alabama.

The three remained at the DeKalb County stop through April 9, when they took off again. They flew until they encountered north winds, and landed about noon in a flooded cornfield in Knox County, Indiana. On April 15, a perfect day for migration, the three birds flew about 290 miles and arrived in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. On April 16 they continued straight north for at least 200 miles— and their signal was lost near the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. No further reports until April 30 when they were detected in flight north of Necedah NWR and proceeded to roost in Wood County, WI. Migration complete! He wandered in the summer and (together with #6-07 and#13-07) was reported in North Dakota in early June and in Minnesota in September.

Fall 2008: Crane #12-07 began migration November 15 from Marathon County, Wisconsin along with #13-07 and #6-07. On Nov. 17 the group was seen heading south from a migration stop near Indianapolis, Indiana. The three wintered in Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2009: Crane #12-07 (with #6-07, #13-07, and #33-07) remained in Polk County, Florida at least through April 4. On April 17 three of them (#12-07, #6-07, #13-07) completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Cranes #12-07 and #6-07 went missing on May 6, but #12-07 later showed up in Burnett County Wisconsin, without #6-07. He still had not shown up by the end of October, but it turns out #12-07 was with #14-05 near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Fall 2009: Began migration with #14-05 on November 15, a day with clear skies and north winds to help push them south. Amazingly, they met up with a pair (#1-04 and #8-05) and another single crane (#29-08) at the same location in Winnebago County, Illinois! The three “groups” had started out from three different locations. Crane #12-07 arrived in Florida by December 16 with #29-08. The two were reported with sandhill cranes in Alachua County, on December 16 and had left that location by December 21. Crane #12-07’s winter location was not determined. He was next reported with non-migratory sandhill cranes in Hernando County, FL on March 2-6 and was still there through at least the last check on March 19, 2010.

Spring 2010: He remained with non-migratory sandhill cranes in Hernando County, Florida, until he apparently began migration on March 25. He was confirmed back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on April 26.

Fall 2010: He was detected on the refuge September 4 and next reported September 28 [with female #17-07 and #31-08 (DAR)] in Columbia County, Wisconsin. These three cranes were in Shelby County, Illinois on Dec. 6. Two other cranes had joined them, and four of this group were detected together in flight through western Kentucky on that same day. They completed migration and wintered in Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2011: Began migration sometime between March 7-13 and reported back at Necedah NWR by March 21 with #17-07.

Fall 2011: He migrated from Necedah NWR in Wisconsin to Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2012: Male #12-07 was last observed on Necedah NWR on April 25, 2012. His transmitter doesn’t work so he cannot be tracked.

Fall 2012: Missing.

Spring 2013: Still missing.

Fall 2013: Still missing.

Spring 2014: Missing since April 2012, and now presumed dead; removed from the flock’s population totals in March 2014.

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Crane #13-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 10, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: green/white/red 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Being one of the youngest in his group, he often lagged behind the others a little, but followed the trike quite well. He was dominant over #12-07 when the two chicks were socialized together. He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24 he and buddy #12-07 could fly a good distance in ground effect. He made steady progress and could fly more than 20 minutes by the end of August. He knows what to do!

History 

First Migration South: Chick #13-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #13-07 below.

Crane #13-07 has always been a good follower of the aircraft, and he still knows what to do! He’s a good, steady influence in the flock and is a fine juvenile Whooping Crane on the migration. He has completed every flight without ever dropping out!

Megan said, “#13-07 seems to be gaining his adult colors faster than the others. The black patches near the bill are darker on him than on the others birds.”

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (#13-07, #12-07, #6-07, #27-07, and #33-07) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2, and once again afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them, including #13-07, landed in Stewart County, Georgia. Unfortunately, #27-07 dropped out about 6 miles south of the other four. On April 3rd, the four males (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07 and #33-07) continued migration to DeKalb County, Alabama. On April 5, the group became three males as #33-07 took off by himself.

The three remained at the DeKalb County stop through April 9, when they took off again. They flew until they encountered north winds, and landed about noon in a flooded cornfield in Knox County, Indiana. On April 15, a perfect day for migration, the three birds flew about 290 miles and arrived in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. On April 16 they continued straight north for at least 200 miles— and the signal was lost near the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. April 17: Tracker Anna Fasoli reported: “I continued searching for #6-07, #12-07 and #13-07. In this part of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, habitat is mostly wooded with few marshes. I searched many marshes, but with no luck, and headed towards Necedah NWR. It is likely the 3 are still in that area since April 17 weather is rainy. Soon, they will head back to Necedah after “spring wandering” is complete! No further reports after their signal was lost on April 16, until they arrived April 30 at Necedah NWR. But #13-07 has his own story:

HOME! At 6 PM on April 30, tracker Colleen Wisinski heard a faint beep as she was driving just north of Mather, Wisconsin in search of signals of newly arrived #6-07 and #12-07. “When I looked at the frequency, I was very excited to see that it was #13-07! He had been with #6-07 and #12-07 during migration, and we were worried when Eva heard signals for only two birds instead of three, so it was a huge relief to hear his signal in the area. I followed #13-07 up Highway 173 and thought that he was going to land at Sandhill WA (where Eva ended up finding #6-07 and #12-07). But soon I was heading past Sandhill and up Hwy 80. I had just passed Babcock, WI when the signal disappeared. I was pretty sure that #13-07 had landed, but I didn’t know where. I continued north on Hwy 80 and then turned west on Hwy 54, still thinking I should head toward Sandhill WA. After I turned the corner, I moved my antenna around to listen in all directions and heard a faint beep to the east, so I turned around and headed east instead. The signal got louder and louder as I drove east. It got really loud when I went around a sharp curve and out into an open area (cranberry bogs). Soon I saw a large white bird flying to the north of me, chased by a Canada Goose. I quickly grabbed my binoculars and saw the flying white bird had black wingtips. It was #13-07, being chased by a goose!! He soon landed at the edge of a cranberry reservoir and began preening and foraging. I watched him for about 30 minutes and Eva even came to watch him too, since #6-07 and #12-07 ended up only about 7 miles away. Then we both headed back to Necedah, very glad that we had found these three missing chicks.”

He wandered in the summer and (together with #6-07 and #12-07) was reported in North Dakota in early June and in Minnesota in September.

Fall 2008: Crane #13-07 began migration November 15 from Marathon County, Wisconsin along with #12-07 and #6-07. On Nov. 17 the group was seen heading south from a migration stop near Indianapolis, Indiana. The three wintered in Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2009: Crane #13-07 (with #6-07, #12-07, and #33-07) remained in Polk County, Florida at least through April 4. On April 17 three of them (#13-07, #12-07, and #6-07) completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Unpaired #13-07 wandered to nearby Wisconsin counties during the summer.

Fall 2009: By December 7, all but 11 Whooping Cranes were gone from the new Eastern flock’s summer home in Wisconsin. Those 11 included pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks. They surprised experts when they chose to begin migration on a very snowy December 11, after being content to roost on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the previous week. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the first three days of migration, which was the first-ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles!

Spring 2010: Male #13-07 began migration from Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, between March 5 and March 13. He and #29-08 were reported together in Jackson County, Indiana, on March 15-17 and his signal was heard at Necedah by Eva on April 11.

Fall 2010: Crane #13-07 began migration from Monroe County, Wisconsin on November 25 or 26 with female #36-09* (DAR). The signal of #36-09 (DAR) was detected at Hiwassee WR, Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, on the morning of December 14 but it is not known if #13-07 was with her because his signal doesn’t work and he can’t be tracked. He has not been confirmed since the Dec. 14, 2010 sighting.

Fall 2011/Winter 2012: Male #13-07 was presumed dead and removed from the population total in February 2012 after being missing since December 2010.

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Crane #14-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 10, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/red/white Right: red/green 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 14-07 was a feisty chick who tried to dominate much bigger birds. She is a sibling of #10-07, who was very sweet, but she constantly tried to peck #10-07. (Her other sibling in the Class of 2007 is #26-07.) She came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one (the 8 oldest chicks). She became a quiet and serene girl among the 7 males in her group.

In flight school, she lagged behind with #12-07 and #13-01, but on July 24 she was right there with the older birds. “We should be flying short circuits with all 8 birds in the next week or so,” predicted the pilot.

By the end of August, most of #14-07’s group of 8—all males except her—flew very well for more than 20 minutes. But #14-07 usually turned back early and landed at the pen. On Aug. 31, she finally stayed in the air for over 20 minutes with the others — a FIRST for her! The next day she dropped out early again. She was always at the back of the pack, but on September 15 she powered through the line of birds, flew over the top of the wing, pushed the lead bird back, and took over the lead! GO, #14-07!

History 

First Migration South: Chick #14-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #14-07 below.

Oct. 23, Day 11: #14-07 was a straggler out of the pen, but she made the whole 18-mile flight to Stopover 2 after 10 days of no-fly weather. She flew alone with Joe’s ultralight, and they were the last to arrive.

Nov. 1, Day 20: #14-07 dropped out and was easily found, crated, and driven in the tracking van to the new Stopover site in Illinois. She was the only bird who didn’t fly this whole leg of the trip.

Nov. 3, Day 22: She was last out of the pen to take off but the pilots were able to coax her skyward, and she then flew the whole 62.8 miles to LaSalle County, IL. 

Nov. 7, Day 26: Late out of the pen again! Joe swooped in to pick her up and she flew the whole 59.3 miles.

Crane #14-07 had attained her adult voice by February, 2008.

Spring 2008, First Journey North – Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates and made it to Worth County, Georgia. Four of the six stayed together (#14-07, #3-07, #7-07 and #9-07) and resumed northward migration the next morning, March 26. The other two birds were only a few miles away. Tracker Richard Urbanek of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, got a visual on the birds.

Fall 2008: Tracking Crew Chief Anna Fasoli found the remains of #14-07 in a field in Bledsoe County, Tennessee. She had apparently been killed by a predator, possibly a coyote.

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Crane #16-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 16, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – In her first few weeks of life, #16-07 was the dominant one of her group (#15-07, #17-07, and #18-07). She was quite aggressive at times. She came to Wisconsin for flight school on July 3 in cohort 2 (the 5 middle chicks in age). When the wing was attached to the ultralight for the first time for cohort 2, chick #16-07 (with pal #21-07) was brave and curious, biting at the struts and cords that support the wing. They followed well as Brooke taxied around with the wing on the trike for the first time. By July 24 these two females were catching a bit of air under their wings as they strongly flapped/ran behind the trike during training. By July 31, she could fly the length of the runway with ease! She seemed thrilled to be flying, and eager to fly with the trike. Sometimes she and her pal #17-07 like to fly over to land in the marsh instead of by the trike. Then they need to be coaxed back to the pen. She thinks for herself. She made steady progress and gained strength and endurance.

History 

First Migration South: Chick #16-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #16-07 below.

Oct. 25, Day 13: About 5 miles from the site, #16-07 began to drop from Richard’s trike. Top cover pilots Don and Paula kept an eye on #16-07 and radioed GPS coordinates to Charlie. He found her, boxed her up and drove her to the new stopover site.

Megan said #16-07 doesn’t get noticed for bad behavior or too much at all. “She is one that I’ve noticed coming up to me out of curiosity more often than most others, but she doesn’t show much aggression. At Necedah she’d follow me around in the pen and was always pretty nice to me.”

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (#16-07, #17-07, #21-07, #24-07, and #26-07). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn’t stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

Fighting with a sandhill crane (far left) in Jefferson County, WI. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

April 19 – Confirmed back in Wisconsin. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2008: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, crane #16-07 was in a group of eight (including #10-08, who was removed from the ultalight cohort) 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. On Dec. 22 she resumed migration from White County, TN and arrived in Cherokee County, Alabama with #11-05, #12-05, #24-07, DAR #46-07 and DAR #37-08. She was confirmed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County, Florida, on January 1, 2009! With her were first-timers #10-08 and DAR #37-08 and #11-05, #12-05, and #24-07. They completed migration sometime December 28 – 31.

Spring 2009: Began migration from Alachua County, Florida on March 10 (with #11-05 and #24-07). Migration stops were March 12 at Cherokee County, AL; March 16 at Coffee County, Tennessee; March 18-20 at Knox County, Indiana; March 21 at DeKalb County, Illinois. The birds apparently completed migration to Necedah NWR on 22 March. She began closely associating with male #16-02 by March 27 and the two were observed unison calling on that day. They spent all summer together in the core area.

Fall 2009: Crane #16-07 left Necedah NWR on migration November 26, migrating in a group with several other departing Whooping cranes before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. Then cranes #16-07 and #16-02 continued with #12-05/#22-07 and (DAR) #38-09. The group was located by aerial survey while in flight over Clark County, Illinois, on Nov. 27. They landed to roost in Lawrence County, Illinois, and on Nov. 28 continued ~20 miles SE to Knox County, Indiana. They were still there Feb. 6.

Spring 2010: Crane pair 16-02/16-07, pair 12-05/22-07, and #38-09 (DAR) remained along the Wabash River, in Knox County, Indiana until they began migration on March 17. A low precision PTT reading for #22-07 indicated a roost location in Dane County, Wisconsin, on the night of March 20. Were the others with her? Female #16-07. was reported by March 29. She separated from her mate #16-02 and apparently paired with male #16-03. (But not for long!)

Fall 2010: Female #16-07, back again with #16-02 was reported with cranes #4-08 and #10-09 in Knox County, Indiana, on November 28. They remained there at least through December 10. They were found at a previous wintering area of #16-02 in Lawrence Co, Tennessee on February 8. The area had checked earlier, and they may have been here since moving from Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2011: Migrating pair #16-07 and mate #16-02 were reported in Wayne County, Illinois, on March 1 and remained at least through March 4. The pair had completed migration to the Wisconsin core area by March 21. By April 7 this pair was nesting for the first time! But alas, these first-time nesters weren’t on their nest when it was checked on April 24. One egg was removed from the nest but unfortunately the egg was already cold and as a result unlikely to be viable.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #16-02 to Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: She was assumed to be with her mate, #16-02 when his signal was 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 sitting on a nest on April 5. That nest failed but they had a second nest by May 7 and were still incubating on May 21 when trackers checked from an airplane. The refuge reported Chick #W9-12 hatched on June 5 and was observed by ICF tracker Eva on June 6. The chick did not survive the summer.

Fall 2012: She was captured Oct. 12 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her old color of white with the PTT was replaced by W/R/W on the right leg. On Nov. 21 she and mate #16-02 were discovered in Gibson County, Indiana, where they remained throughout the winter. Also present there were pair #12-05/#22-07 and males #19-09 and #25-10 DAR.

Spring 2013: Female #16-07 and mate #16-02 completed spring migration March 30. They soon had a nest together, but it failed and they re-nested. This nest, too, was abandoned but both eggs were rescued and taken to ICF for incubation. The eggs successfully hatched May 17 and May 18 to become chicks #7-13 and #8-13 for the Class of 2013 ultralight-led fall migration.

Fall 2013: Female #16-07 and mate #16-02 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana, where they were last reported at least through Feb. 2014. 

ICF tracker Eva took this photo on Feb. 12, 2014 with support from Windway Aircraft:

Spring 2014: Female #16-07 and mate #16-02 completed spring migration to Necedah NWR March 28. The pair nested in Juneau County, and the nest was still active as of April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Female #16-07 began fall migration from Necedah on November 8th with her mate, #16-02. They wintered in Gibson County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Pair 16-07 and 16-02 returned to Necedah NWR and nested. Those first eggs were removed by experts in the forced re-nesting program, but their second nest produced chick #W21-15 on June 1 and #W22-15 on June 2. One chick was seen alive on June 23, but did not survive to fledge.

Here’s a parent and chick on June 8. Photo: Bev Paulan

Fall 2015: Migrated to Gibson County, Indiana with her mate.

Spring 2016: Pair #16-07 and #16-02 were observed back on territory at Necedah NWR by the March 30 aerial survey flight. They were seen on a nest on a May 19 survey flight.

#W18-16, hatched on June 5 but did not survive into the summer. Photo: BEv Paulan

Fall 2016: Pair #16-07 and #16-02 were still in Wisconsin as of Nov. 25 but migrated in December to Gibson County, Indiana.

Spring 2017: After completing spring migration back to Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR, the new pair with female #16-07 and male #1-04 were reported on a nest platform April 2nd by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan!

When checked on April 5th the pair were near but not on the nest platform and it appears the new pair did not produced eggs this year.

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Crane #17-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: April 21, 2003
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/white/green

Personality and History

Migration Training: Chick #17-07 originated from a wild egg — an egg that was rescued after adult pair #13-02 and #18-02 abandoned their nest earlier this spring. In her first few weeks of life, #17-07 was a scared little chick. She got braver as she got older. In fact, she was pretty aggressive towards the others in cohort 2 since the time the team first started socializing them as a whole group until migration time. She came to Wisconsin on July 3 in cohort 2, the group of 5 chicks between the oldest and the youngest. Megan said, “It was funny; she was always going after the other birds, but then she’d cry to the handlers. Just a big bully.” By July 31, she could fly the length of the runway with ease! She was so happy to be flying that she often ran out to greet the trike when it taxied up for training session. Sometimes she and her pal #16-07 liked to fly over to land in the marsh instead of next to the trike. They had to be coaxed back to the pen.

Her white feathers are whiter than all the rest of the chicks. (This was also true last year of the chick hatched from a wild egg.) Nathan likes chick #17-07! She’s grown much braver than when she was tiny. On September 12 the two newly-combined cohorts were not getting along. Chick #17-07 was especially aggressive. She attacked the younger chicks and would have knocked one over but the pilots rushed in to give the fighters “time out” in separate pens!

“She’s calmed down a lot and isn’t really aggressive anymore to other birds or the handlers. When she first got her new leg band prior to migration, it was light blue with white clouds on it. It was the only special one that wasn’t plain colored. The colors faded soon after though, so now it’s light blue mixed with red and white showing from underneath.”

History
First Migration South: Chick #17-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #17-07 below.

Crane #17-07 never gives anybody any problems! She’s a strong flying bird, a good follower, and a flock mate who minds her own business in the class of 2007.

As of Day 81, she’s made every flight successfully without ever dropping out, but she proved she had a mind of her own:
Jan. 12, Day 81: On this fly day, #17-07 remained in the pen, refusing to follow the other 16 birds as they took flight behind lead pilot Brooke. Bev finally coaxed #17-07 out, but she flew to a nearby cow pond and still wouldn’t take flight. Once again Bev tried to coax the the wayward bird out, which meant Bev sank up to her waist in muddy water. Finally #17-07 took wing behind Richard’s trike and flew with Richard all the way to the next stopover in Marion County, Georgia. Do you wonder what she was thinking?

Jan. 23, Day 92: Today was one of the worst struggles of the whole migration, and #17-07 dropped out early near the pensite. She was safely recovered and crated on a day when many of the birds had other plans after 7 days on the ground at the previous stop.

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Before the birds were ready to migrate from Florida, #17-07 had a change in leg bands. She now wears a PTT (White/Green) instead of the 3-band color code on the right leg. The PTT was removed from #35-07, her flock mate that will not be able to fly north on migration.

Dr. Richard Urbanek attaches the band while Sara holds #17-07 and Colleen helps. The hood over the crane’s head prevents her from seeing the humans as they work on her leg bands.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (#16-07, #17-07, #21-07, #24-07, and #26-07). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn’t stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

Fighting with a sandhill crane (far left) in Jefferson County, WI. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #9-07, #10-07, #22-07, and #26-07.

Spring 2009: Began migration from Hernando County, FL with cranes #9-07 and #26-07 on March 24. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. Crane #17-07 and #9-07 were among the birds that often followed #10-07 to the nearby ethanol plant to get the spilled corn. This is a dangerous situation because of all the human activity at the ethanol plant, but luckily this pair did not keep it up after the too-tame #10-07 was captured and relocated to a zoo in Florida. Female #17-07 and male #9-07 paired up and spent the summer in the core area.

Fall 2009: Sub-adult pair #9-07 and #17-07 were still on the Wisconsin refuge as of Nov. 15 but they did migrate and spend winter at their previous territory in Hernando County, Florida.

Spring 2010: Female #17-07 with #9-07 began migration from the pair’s Florida winter territory on March 19-20. PTT readings for #17-07 on April 1 indicated return to Necedah NWR, and #9-07 was also observed on Necedah NWR on that date. The two have been together since they were in the same training cohort as chicks. They were a possible breeding pair for this spring, but they did not establish a territory and on June 3 the carcass of her mate, male #9-07, was discovered near the boundary of the refuge. The area was not crane habitat, and #9-07 may have dropped while airborne. He was last observed alive on May 22 and was apparently dead by May 24, the next date when his mate (#17-07) was observed alone.

Fall 2010: Female #17-07 had moved to Columbia County, Wisconsin with #12-07 and #31-08 (DAR) by September 28. She migrated with #12-07 and #31-08 (DAR), whose PTT reading on November 29 indicated a location in Shelby County, Illinois. All three were seen at this location during an aerial survey on December 3. The three were detected in flight with cranes #16-04 and #4-09 through western Kentucky on December 6. They completed migration and wintered in Polk County, Florida.

Spring 2011: Began migration sometime between March 7-13 and reported back at Necedah NWR by March 21. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked. By March 24 she was with male #10-09 in Monroe County. They stayed at this location into April.

Fall 2011: Female #17-07 was captured in Monroe County, Wisconsin, on October 15 to remove a piece of fishing line that was wrapped around her right leg. It was safely removed at her capture location and she was released immediately. On Nov. 7, tracker Eva, who had been observing her, reported that she seemed to be improving. On Oct. 21 she could see that the bird was still not putting her full weight on the leg. She did have a better range of motion, and she didn’t seem to be using her wings to help her walk as much as she had before. On Nov. 5, she was found with a group of Whooping cranes in a corn field in Juneau County, WI. At first she was lying down. Then she stood for a few minutes before lying down again. About 15 minutes later she stood again, this time for approximately 7 minutes before again lying down. She was still limping heavily, but she now puts weight on the leg and was not using her wings to walk. When standing and eating she almost always had the leg in normal position rather than holding it up at a 90-degree angle. Eva could still see the noticeable bump at the site of the leg injury. She and her male companion (#10-09) have sometimes returned to one of the pools on the Necedah refuge to roost, and the male seemed very protective of her. Tracker Eva Szyszkoski observed #17-07 again on November 17th. “She looked fabulous!” said Eva. Her leg no longer dangled in flight, and everything appeared normal. She was next seen on migration. She wintered with #10-09 in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Female #17-07 was assumed to be flying with her mate #10-09 when he was detected March 15 in flight with several other Whooping cranes headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—close to Necedah NWR. This new pair had their first nest together by April 23 but it was not successful.

Fall 2012: She was captured Oct. 15 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her old colors of W/G (PTT) were replaced by R/W/G on the right leg.

Spring 2013: Female #17-07 left her mate #29-09 in Sauk County, Wisconsin and completed migration alone, arriving March 28 at Necedah NWR.

Fall 2013: Female #17-07, after leaving Green County, Indiana, continued south to the Wheeler NWR instead of staying and spending the rest of the winter with her mate, #10-09.

Spring 2014: Female #17-07 completed migration to Dane County, Wisconsin by March 19, with #6-11, #15-11 DAR, and #7-12. The young DAR #59-13 (Latke) was with the group when they all left Wheeler NWR in Alabama on March 5 and made their way north. On March 18 they arrived in Dane County Wisconsin by roost time. On March 21 the four older birds left the juvenile #59-13 (Latke) there, and continued to Necedah NWR. Female #17-07 soon had paired up again with her previous mate #10-09. (The two had wintered at separate locations.) They nested, and the nest was still active as of April 30 but failed in May when they abandoned it.

Image: International Crane Foundation, Eva Szyszkoski

Fall 2014: Female #17-07 left on migration from the Necedah area on Nov. 8 with mate #10-09 and spent winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Female #17-07 and mate#10-09 were reported back on their Wisconsin territory by the date of the March 25 aerial survey. On May 11 they hatched chick #W3-15! The photo below was taken from the air on June 8. The chick, a female, survived and fledged. She was captured and banded before fall migration.

Wild hatched chick W3-15 with parents.

Fall 2015: Female #17-07 was seen with mate #10-09 on their winter territory in Greene County, Indiana by late November.

Spring 2016: Pair #17-07 and #10-09 returned by March 30 to their Wisconsin territory and nested. On June 7, male #10-09 was seen standing on a nest with two eggs visible, but the nest failed. No chicks for this pair in summer 2016.

Fall 2016: Pair #17-07 and #10-09 migrated south to Greene County, Indiana in early November.

Spring 2017: Pair #17-07 and #10-09 returned to their Wisconsin territory and were nesting by early April. Their eggs were collected as part of the forced renesting study and their second nest was seen unattended as of June 15th. Bev notes there was one intact egg and what appeared to be eggshells on the nest platform.

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Crane #21-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 21, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/green/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 21-07 was smallest in her cohort—just a peanut in comparison to #24-07. She is an eager and happy-go-lucky little bird. She likes to jump around so much that she even broke her toe when she was tiny. She got really excited when the trainers put the ramp in the baby pen to let her go outside.

She came to Wisconsin on July 3 in cohort 2, the group of 5 chicks between the oldest and the youngest. She keeps losing the splint on her broken toe. She has the most popular toe in the pen because the other chicks like to peck at the strange splint. At Necedah she was kept separate in the pen to keep her out of the water, but #22-07 was let in to keep her company. On July 9 when the wing was first added to the ultralight for cohort 2, she and pal #16-07 were so curious and brave that they bit at the struts and cords that support the plane’s wing. They followed well as Brooke taxied around with the wing on and quickly learned it was nothing to be scared of. By July 24 these two females were catching a bit of air under their wings as they strongly flapped/ran behind the trike during training. By July 31 she could fly in ground effect for 100 yards or more. During August she practiced and made lots of progress as a good flyer.

History 

First Migration South: Chick #21-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #21-07 below.

Nov. 10, Day 29: When all her flockmates blasted out of the pen to take off with Joe’s plane, #21-07 hung back at the pen, as if saying “I will wait for the next ride.” Megan played swamp monster to scare #21-07 into the air, and Richard went down to pick up #21-07 and lead her to the next stopover.

Nov. 25, Day 44: #21-07 was again reluctant to join the others, but Joe taxied up and coaxed her out of the pen. She flew the distance. Did she just want an easier ride?

December 29, Day 68: #21-07 took off with all the others to cross the Cumberland Ridge today, but she was late coming out of the pen. As a result, she lagged behind. But Richard came along at just the right time. They climbed high and flew over the mountains. Go, #21-07!

January 23-24, Days 92-93: Chick #21-07 was one of several that dropped out of the flight to Gilchrist County, and she was the only one not found before dark. But trackers determined her location that evening, and they found and boxed her up early the next morning. She was soon with her flock again, and she performed like a champ as all 17 birds flew safely to Gilchrist County, Florida.

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

February, 2008: Now at the “Chass” pen site, #21-07 doesn’t like #3-07 and chases him almost every day. Luckily, he can fly well! Watching over the chicks at the pen, Sara says, “The strange and aggravating thing is when #21-07 comes from halfway across the pen to harrass and chase #3-07 for no apparent reason. Needless to say I feel sorry for #3-07 and am not a big fan of #21-07 and her bullyish behavior.”

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (#16-07, #17-07, #21-07, #24-07, and #26-07). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn’t stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

Fighting with a sandhill crane (far left) in Jefferson County, WI. Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

April 19: HOME!

Fall 2008: Crane #21-07 successfully migrated with male #7-03 but was found dead on January 3, 2009, in Putnam County, Florida. Trackers estimated that she probably died sometime the previous week, or late December of 2008. It appeared as though she may have been predated by an eagle. She had last been observed alive on December 22 with male #7-03, with whom she had paired at Necedah NWR in mid-June. She migrated with him, but when #7-03 was no longer in the same location as #21-07, trackers began to suspect something was wrong. Eva Szyszkoski said that data from outside observers indicates that #7-03 may have stuck around for a few days after #21-07’s death, and then moved west to Alachua County, Florida where other Whooping cranes are wintering.

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Crane #22-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 21, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: green/white 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 22-07 is a submissive bird near the more aggressive #24-07, but gets along great with #21-07. She came to Wisconsin on July 3 in cohort 2, the middle group of 5 chicks. By July 31, she could fly the length of the runway with ease! On August 1 she and #24-07 got discouraged when they couldn’t keep up with the trike and landed in the marsh. When they wouldn’t come back on the runway to try again, Swamp Monster had to scare them out. Chick #22-07 got so scared that she ran straight for the pen and banged into the fence. But she came running back when she saw the friendly puppet head waving by the trike! 

First Migration South: Chick #22-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #22-07 below.

Megan observed that #22-07 has never really caused any problems and seems to avoid the handlers more than any of the others.

She completed every flight without dropping out. The migration was completed Jan. 28, 2008.

History

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates. That night trackers picked up a PTT (satellite) reading on #22-07 in southwestern Georgia. Soon #22-07 and #10-07 split off from the others and flew a few miles away. The two resumed migration on March 26 to Bledsoe County, TN and were joined there on March 28 by #7-07. The three migrated to Morgan County, Indiana on April 8. On April 9 they were migrating, and by April 10 they arrived in Jasper County, Indiana. On April 12, PTT data indicated they were in Lake County, Illinois. On April 13 they moved to McHenry County, Illinois, 30 miles west of their previous roost. They remained there through April 19. The group resumed migration on April 20 or 21. On April 21 they passed east of Necedah NWR and roosted that night in Waupaca County, Wisconsin. At 9:30 a.m. on April 23 they headed towards Necedah NWR, landing in nearby Jackson County at approximately 4:30pm MIGRATION COMPLETE!

Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #9-07, #10-07, #17-07, and #26-07.

Spring 2009: Began migration from Florida on March 18. Was in Randolph County, Alabama by the night of March 19 and in Champaign County, Illinois on the night of March 22. The signal of #22-07 (and presumably #10-07 with her) was detected on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 23 and both birds were confirmed on the refuge March 24. Trouble came when they began staying at the nearby ethanol plant where they found a food supply of spilled corn. Sadly, crane #10-07 had grown too tame last winter in Florida when someone fed him corn. Since his tameness put him in danger and might attract other birds to the busy ethanol plant, #10-07 was moved to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida. After his capture at the ethanol plant, female #22-07 roosted at the Necedah NWR. The next day she visited the ethanol plant again, but was easily scared off by swamp monster and now safely stays at the refuge. She began hanging out with #9-05.

Fall 2009: She left Wisconsin Nov. 26 with #12-05 and several other Whooping cranes that migrated as a group before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. She and #12-05, now traveling just with #16-02/#16-07 and DAR #38-09, were next located by aerial survey while they were in flight over Clark County, Illinois, on Nov. 27. They landed to roost in Lawrence County, Illinois, and continued about 20 miles SE to Knox County, Indiana, on Feb. 6.

Spring 2010: Crane pairs #12-05/#22-07, #16-02/#16-07, and #38-09 (DAR) remained along the Wabash River, in Knox County, Indiana until they began migration on March 17. A low precision PTT reading for #22-07 indicated a roost location in Dane County, Wisconsin, on the night of March 20. She and #12-05 were detected back on Necedah NWR on March 22. #12-05 was not reported until 24 March, but both were likely together on 22 March.

Fall 2010: Crane #22-07 and mate #12-05 (hereafter #22-07 and #12-05) were reported in Gibson County, Indiana, on December 9. They arrived at Paynes Prairie Preserve SP, Alachua County, Florida, by December 30.

Spring 2011: Crane pair #22-07 and #12-05 were on their winter territory in Alachua County, FL when checked on February 24 but they were no longer detected during a check on the afternoon of March 1. Reported back at Necedah NWR by March 21. The pair made two failed nesting attempts this summer, begun on April 20 and again on May 18. The second nest failed May 22nd when a tornado passed through. The nest was found abandoned the next day and no eggs or shell fragments were found.

Fall 2011: Crane #22-07 and mate #12-05 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana, for the winter.

Spring 2012: Cranes #22-07 and #12-05 were detected in flight March 16 south of Necedah NWR and headed north. They’re back! They were on a nest as of April 4. That nest failed on April 26 but they were incubating on nest #2 by May 21. These eggs were due to hatch June 17-19, but the nest had failed by June 15.

Fall 2012: On Nov. 21 pair #22-07 and #12-05 were discovered in Gibson County, Indiana, where they remained throughout the winter. Also present there were pair #16-02/#16-07 and males #19-09 and #25-10 DAR.

Spring 2013: Cranes #22-07 and #12-05 completed spring migration on March 30. By late April or early May they were reported nesting but the nest failed, along with nests of many other crane pairs, during a black fly outbreak in early May. The pair did not re-nest this summer.

Fall 2013: Crane #22-07 is suspected to have died, said tracker Eva Syszkoski in November, 2013. This female crane has a non-working transmitter so cannot be tracked, but her mate was seen on their previous wintering territory in Gibson County, Indiana, first alone but as of Nov. 9 with a different female. She has been removed from the official population totals in December 2013.

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Crane #24-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 22, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 24-07 cried and cried when he was moved from the Propagation Building to the Crane Chick Building in his first week of life. He’d get really angry at the puppet and wouldn’t eat unless the puppet gave him his food. But he got over it and soon ate and drank well by himself. Chick #24-07 loved to flap his wings, but was sometimes aggressive to the other chicks. When we put the whole group together, #24-07 was the most aggressive (but has also since calmed down). Once #24-07 chased #21-07 out of the feed shed! He came to Wisconsin on July 3 in cohort 2, the group of 5 chicks between the oldest and the youngest. He was the largest of his group. By July 31 he could fly in ground effect for 100+ yards. On August 1 he and #22-07 got discouraged when they couldn’t keep up with the trike and landed in the marsh to join up with an adult Whooping Crane. When they wouldn’t come back on the runway to try again, Swamp Monster had to scare them out. Chick #24-07 got so scared that he bounded straight back to the trike, like running to a parent!

History

First Migration South: Chick #24-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #24-07 below.

Crane #24-07 doesn’t “make waves.” He minds his own business and does what he’s supposed to. He doesn’t get lost or resist coming out of the pen when the ultralight comes to pick up the birds. He’s growing up into a fine Whooping Crane! (He was the biggest bird in cohort 2 and while at Necedah was probably the biggest of all. His bigger stature isn’t as noticeable anymore on migration.)

He has completed every flight without dropping out even once.

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Crane #24-07 had attained his adult voice by February, 2008.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (#16-07, #17-07, #21-07, #24-07, and #26-07). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn’t stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

April 19: HOME!

Fall 2008: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, crane #24-07 was in a group of eight (including #10-08, who was removed from the ultralight cohort) 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. On Dec. 22 he resumed migration from White County, TN and arrived in Cherokee County, Alabama with #11-05, #12-05, #16-07, DAR #46-07 and DAR #37-08. (Some cranes separated from the group that morning.) Completed migration sometime Dec. 28-31, where he was at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County, Florida. With him were first-timers #10-08 and DAR #37-08 and #11-05, #12-05, and #16-07.

Spring 2009: Began migration from Alachua County, Florida on March 10 (with #11-05 and #16-07). Migration stops were March 12 at Cherokee County, AL; March 16 at Coffee County, Tennessee; March 18-20 at Knox County, Indiana; March 21 at DeKalb County, Illinois. Recorded by datalogger on Necedah NWR March 22 and confirmed by March 25. He was last detected on June 26.

Fall 2009: Still missing (since June 26, 2009).

Summer 2010: Missing male #24-07 was presumed dead and removed from the total count of the Eastern flock.

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Crane #26-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 25, 2007
Legbands: Left: green/white/green Right: green/red 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 26-07 is huge! She is almost twice the size of her training buddies, but she is nice and mellow. She has two siblings (#10-07 and #14-07) in the Class of 2007. In her first weeks of life she was easily distracted by yummy worms and other treats. She was not a good follower. She ruled the roost and kept #27-07 in check before younger #33-07 and #35-07 came along to complete this group. Trainer Barb said, “#26-07 was never really mean, but a subtle peck or even her mere presence was enough to make the other chicks move away and out of her reach.” She came to Wisconsin in cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. By July 31 she could fly in ground effect for short distances.

By mid August, #26-07 was flying very short circuits behind the ultralight plane. Because of the large age gap in Cohort 3, the group’s two older chicks (#26-07 and #27-07) were trained together for a short time before the two younger chicks joined them. The pilots then slowed the pace for the two younger birds. All are making steady progress. By mid September #26-07 was flying longer and farther. She followed the trike much better than when she was a tiny chick. But Bev says #26-07 is still more interested in chasing grasshoppers than following the ultralight plane!

On October 6, chick #26-07 strutted her stuff when she flew alone with the aircraft for the entire flight!

First Migration South: Chick #26-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #26-07 below.

She’s doing wonderfully on the migration, but here’s a story about her mischief:

Nov. 7, Day 26: The pilot wrote, “I’ve had the pleasure of flying with #26-07 for the last two flights. This bird loves to be in the lead position and is constantly pulling my strings (literally). Our fabric wings attain their airfoil shape by aluminum battens that are inserted into the wing and secured at the trailing edge by strings under tension. Crane #26-07 has picked up a habit of tugging on the outer batten string; an amusing thing to watch the first few times, but it becomes a bit annoying after awhile. Surfing my right wing, she would continuously grab the knot at the end of the string and give an upward tug, trying to hold on as long as possible. Each time she tugs the string, I need to counteract by bringing the wing back down; otherwise I begin to turn to the left. This went on for the entire flight and I had visions of her actually succeeding in removing the batten — a scary thought for me as well as any unfortunate person standing on the ground below me.”

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but the third day down, so the chicks were let out to exercise. Chick #26-07 didn’t want to be herded back into the pen. She turned on Brooke and made a great show of jumping at him, spinning, jumping, and trying to show Brooke who was the boss of this game! She was one of four chicks that wouldn’t go back into the pen until after a very soggy game of tag.

#26-07 investigates the ever-present adult crane model that got knocked down in their pen. Photo Bev Paulan,
Operation Migration

Dec. 20: When Megan and Brian took the birds out to play in the some water, #26-07 didn’t want to go back into to the pen! At the last moment she turned and flew away. She stood watching from the crest of a hill, wings drooping nearly to the ground out of pure exhaustion. Megan said, “She followed easily but slowly after I trotted up the hill to fetch her before she tried to fly again. Stopping for a short rest every few feet made for a long trip, but she seemed in much better spirits by the time we got back to the pen.”

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Crane #26-07 had attained her adult voice by February, 2008.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (#16-07, #17-07, #21-07, #24-07, and #26-07). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn’t stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

April 19, 2008: HOME!

Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #9-07, #10-07, #17-07, and #22-07.

Spring/Summer 2009: Began migration from Hernando County, FL with cranes #9-07 and #17-07 on March 24. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. That summer, female #26-07 and mate #7-03 staked out the site of one of the ultralight chick cohorts as their territory. They were very aggressive about it, especially at evening roost-check time. Handler/trainer Bev said, “The pair stalks us as we walk away from the pen and #26-07, whom I raised from an egg, is the more aggressive of the two. She runs up behind us, stamping her feet and stabbing at us with her long beak. I turn and face her, remembering her as a cute fuzzy little chick, running enthusiastically behind me, waving stubby wings trying to keep up. I remember feeding her meal worms, coaxing her to follow the trike and not be afraid. Now, I have to stand up to her and chase her from the runway. She greets us with a crouch threat, laying all the way down on the ground in anticipation of leaping up and jump-raking us. Then she turns and struts with stiff legs, showing her glorious red crown, trying to intimidate. She then goes through every threat posture possible, telling us that this is her territory, and chicks or not, she is staying! I stand my ground, mostly because I am so impressed by this incredibly beautiful, incredibly graceful creature that I helped nurture. She is now truly wild, doing the things a wild bird would do, acting the way a wild bird would act. Trying to scare off the intruder even if it was her ‘mama.'”

Fall 2009: By December 7, all but 11 Whooping Cranes were gone from the new Eastern flock’s summer home in Wisconsin. Those 11 included pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks. They surprised experts when they chose to begin migration on a very snowy December 11, after being content to roost on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the previous week. That day they reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the first three days of migration, which was the first-ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles! Pair #7-03 and #26-07 safely reached their winter home in Alachua County, Florida.

Spring 2010: Female #26-07 and mate #7-03 completed their migration from the Alachua County, Florida area by March 22.

Fall 2010: Pair #26-07 (and #7-03) apparently began migration from Necedah NWR on November 23. They were next found December 13 on their previous wintering territory in Alachua County, Florida.

Spring 2011: Pair #26-07 and #7-03 were on their winter territory when checked on March 1, but they apparently began migration on/by March 8. They had arrived at their territory on Necedah NWR by March 25. These first-time nesters were incubating on April 10 but their first nest failed on May 4. Her mate was discovered dead on their territory in July; female #26-07 moved to another part of the refuge and spent time with other Whooping cranes there.

Fall 2011: Female #26-07 (with #4-08) began migration on Dec. 1-5, according to ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. Wintering location was Vermillion County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Female #26-07 and her mate #4-08 returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 7 and spent the summer together.

Fall 2012: She was captured Oct. 24 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her original band colors remain the same.

Spring 2013: Female #26-07 arrived by March 24 on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. This female was soon stolen away from her old mate #4-08 by the widowed #11-02. Sure enough, before May 3 the new pair had built a nest together, but abandoned the nest in early May when an outbreak of black flies tormented many of the crane pairs off their nests.

Fall 2013: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 migrated to Vermillion County, Indiana, where they were at least through January 25.

Spring 2014: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin and nested. Their nest was still active when checked on April 30. One chick seen with the parents on the May 29 survey flight but it did not survive.

Fall 2014: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 left on migration on October 17-23 and stopped at their usual location in Vermillion County, Indiana, through at least January 3, however (unlike last year), they apparently didn’t want to remain there through the colder weather and continued to Cherokee County, Alabama for the winter.

Spring 2015: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 were back in Juneau County Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey flight by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan. The pair’s first nest failed on April 15 but they re-nested. It was a sad day when her remains were collected on her second nest of two eggs on May 7th. Death had likely occurred around May 5th.

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Crane #27-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 27, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: red/green 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – Number 27-07 was EXTREMELY aggressive at first. For a time, she attacked anything that moved. Fortunately she later calmed down. She was not a good follower in early training. She came to Wisconsin in cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. By July 31 she could fly in ground effect for short distances. That means she’s ALMOST flying, trying hard to keep up in leaps and bounds.

By mid August, #27-07 could fly the length of the runway, but seemed to reach a temporary plateau in her progress. She and #26-07 received off-ground flight training and some exercise for a short time before the cohort’s two younger birds were let out of the pen to join them. Then she got better and flew circuits with pal #26-07.

Chick #27-07 is not afraid to stand up to the two adults (pair #11-02 and #17-02) that visit the runway. The adults show aggressive displays, but chicks #27-07 and pal #33-07 are bold enough to fly at the adults with necks stretched out and beaks snapping. The adults get out of their way! (The pilots try to get between the aggressors so the birds don’t hurt one another.)

First Migration South: Chick #27-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #27-07 below.

Oct. 23, Day 11: After 10 days grounded by weather, the birds got to fly today. But #27-07 was still reluctant about following and dropped out short of Stopover #2. Tracking in his van, Charlie couldn’t get a good signal because she’d fly, land, fly again, land again. . . so the pilots flew circles in the area to find her. Joe spotted #27-07 in a small mowed pasture surrounded on all four sides by forest. (No wonder Charlie couldn’t see her!) “Apparently she had flown down into this clearing in the woods, but didn’t have the energy to take-off and fly back out,” said Charlie. He hiked in, crated the bird, and drove her to the stopover site in his van.

Oct 25, Day 13: #27-07 gave up after 10 minutes of flight and landed in a field. Megan found her, boxed her up and drove her to the new stopover site.

Oct 28, Day 16: #27-07 dropped out and was retrieved and boxed up by Megan to finish the trip to Green County by road.

Nov. 1, Day 20: This is the first time #27-07 has competed a leg and not been crated! She flew across the border and into Illinois!

Nov. 9, Day 28: Just as they gained enough altitude to fly in smooth air, #27-07 set her wings and was looking for a place to land. As Brian moved in on the ground to capture her, #27-07 took to the air and flew over the road to land again. Brian soon had her boxed and loaded into the tracking van for the road trip to the new stopover.

Nov. 10, Day 29: She took off with Joe and 15 others for a great flight. But just 10 miles from landing at today’s destination, #27-07 fell back off Joe’s wing. Brooke moved in and she joined with him to finish the flight next to his wing.

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but a day for exercise. After flying in the misty air and running around in the rain, it was time for the birds to go back into the pen. Thirteen went in, but four were holdouts—including #27-07. The four would not budge. Just when the costumes thought they got one headed the right direction, the bird would spin away and run back to join the others, like a game of tag in the rain!

Dec. 29, Day 68: Crane #27-07 was the only one that didn’t make the journey over the Cumberland Ridge by air. She was refusing to climb and eventually landed in a nearby woods. Brooke and the ground crew retrieved her from the woods and led her back to the pen. As #27-07 seemed reluctant to fly, they put her in a crate and drove her to the next destination.

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (#27-07, #33-07, #12-07, #13-07, and #6-07) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2 until afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them landed in Stewart County, Georgia.

Unfortunately, #27-07 dropped out in Randolph County, Georgia about 6 miles south from the other four. On April 3 she continued migration but her signal was lost. On Apr. 8 tracker Eva picked up her signal, flying in the from southeast! Eva and Anna tracked #27-07 to her roosting location that night in Trousdale County, TN. She took off the next morning (Apr. 9) despite clouds and rain. The rain became too much and she landed just 2 hours later in Robertson County, TN. She continued migration April 10 under cloudy skies with a strong tail wind until a large band of thunderstorms eventually grounded her at 3:15. She landed in a flooded cornfield in Sullivan County, Indiana, where she remained at least through April 14. Read tracker Anna Fasoli’s detailed description. On May 9-10 she was reported on a pond in Greene County, Indiana. By May 14 she moved to Vermilion County, Illinois, where she remained until May 26. She was next reported at an overnight stop on a golf course in Will County, Illinois, on June 1, and left the following morning. She was the only 2007 ultralight-led crane that did not return to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge for the summer.

On September 7-8 she was reported with two sandhill cranes in Marshall County in north-central Indiana. She had been boxed up and driven in a van during most of the Wisconsin portion of the 2007 ultralight-led migration and missed flying much of the northern part of the migration route.

Fall 2008: She was reported alone in Spencer County, Indiana, on January 25 and 27, 2009. No further reports. She had last been observed with three Sandhill cranes during a tracking flight north of Grayson County, Kentucky, on Dec. 2.

Spring 2009: Reported leaving Jackson Co, Indiana on Feb. 24, where she had been with Sandhill cranes for the previous 10 days. On March 7, a reported Whooping crane in Starke County, Indiana — with a partial band combination matching hers — may have been #27-07. This crane did not return to Wisconsin last year. She spent much of the spring/summer in Illinois and Indiana (see above). But this year she found her way home! She is currently in Winnebago County, Wisconsin with sandhill cranes. Her identity was confirmed on March 28, thanks to a public sighting report and photograph. Welcome back, #27-07! Now let’s hope she finds some whoopers to be with.

Fall 2009: She was reported in a Sandhill crane staging (gathering) area in Indiana at the beginning of October. On Dec. 12 she was with sandhill cranes in Brown County, Indiana. She made it to Florida where she was reported with sandhill cranes in Madison County, on January 24 and 25.

Spring 2010: She was still on her Florida wintering grounds Feb. 16 but gone by March 4. Is she migrating? Yes, and trackers were thrilled to report that she returned to Necedah! She was heard and seen flying around the Necedah area on April 18th. “This is the first time she has returned to Necedah NWR since she left in the fall of 2007 with the ultralight airplanes,” exclaimed Eva, who hopes this female is “snatched up by one of our single male cranes.” Crane #23-07 was detected in Winnebago County, WI, on April 26 and 27 and Sara said, “This is where she spent some time last spring before heading back south to Indiana.” What will this female crane do next? #27-07 was reported in Indiana’s Kosciusko County in September and October.

Fall 2010: Female #27-07 was reported with sandhill cranes near LaPorte County, Indiana, on November 27 and 28 and apparently gone by November 29. She was was reported with sandhill cranes in Jasper County, Indiana on December 10 and remained in the area at least through last report on December 29. A whooping crane seen in the same area on January 20 could have been her. Trackers suspect her transmitter doesn’t work.

Spring 2011: Female #27-07 was last reported with sandhill cranes on her usual summering area in Kosciusko County, Indiana on the evening of March 13, 2011. Trackers suspect that her transmitter quit working.

Fall 2011: Female #27-07 still had not been located.

Spring 2012: Missing female #27-07 is presumed dead and has been removed from the population totals.

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Crane #33-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 8, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – From the start #33-07 was a bully, and quickly became the dominant bird in cohort 3 despite being smaller and having a leg problem. He pecked anyone who got in his way until they moved! When he met the other 3 chicks in his group, #33-07 quickly declared himself the new sheriff. He didn’t seek anyone out to pick on, but if he wanted to go somewhere or do something and another chick was in his way, look out! He ignored little #35-07, which is a good thing as #35-07 is the smallest of all.

He came to Wisconsin in Cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. Despite #33-07’s spells of crankiness, training with Cohort 3 went well. He is one of the two youngest birds and by July 31 was still developing his primary flight feathers. He ran behind the trike with his heavy wings held out, but still unable to fly. (He’ll be able to fly when his primary flight feathers grow in.) Chick #33-07 had foot/leg problems (rotated hocks) that were slow to improve. The team hoped that would change. Even though he and his young pal #35-07 can’t keep up with the others in their group, the two youngsters always try. And they always come up to the trike at the end of the training session.

By mid-August, the team was still concerned over #33-07’s rotated leg, but he was doing very well. Being able to fly relieved stress on the leg caused by running to keep up. By Aug. 22, #33-07 flew the length of the grass runway!

Chick #33-07 was not afraid to stand up to the two adults (pair #11-02 and #17-02) that visited the runway. He took courage from his bold pal #27-07. The adults showed aggressive displays, but chicks #33-07 and pal #27-07 were bold enough to fly at them with necks stretched out and beaks snapping. The adults got out of their way! (The pilots tried to get between the aggressors so the birds don’t hurt one another.) By mid September his leg and foot were much better. He walked well and landed fine. He became one of the better followers, too, always right on the wing. He tried to keep up with the new combined group of nine chicks in all.

First Migration South: Chick #33-07 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #33-07 below.

Nov. 3, Day 22: Little #33-07 was doing his very best to stay in the lineup of 11 behind Brooke’s plane. But pecking order put him at the back of the line, where he had to flap his wings harder to keep up. He got tired and dropped, so Brooke dropped down to keep #33-07 with him and help coax him onward. It worked for 10 to 15 minutes. Then the tired #33-07 dropped another 15 feet. Again Brooke dropped to stay with him and again he was encouraged to keep trying. Brooke said, “He hangs on with everything he’s got.” But the tired bird dropped again with just 8 miles left to the stopover. Charlie came to his rescue with a box and drove him the few miles left to the new stop. Three cheers for brave little #33-07 for a truly great effort!

Nov. 9, Day 28: #33-07 seemed to be afraid of something flying below the wing. Pilot Richard said, “He began to get tired as he tried to keep up. He would fly on the wing for a bit but then, screaming, he would duck under the wing and refuse to get back on top. After many attempts and many miles, we lost altitude and soon we were being bounced around in the rough air down lower.” He dropped down to tree level but Richard kept going with the other tired birds. 

Nov. 10, Day 29: He did great, flying the whole distance of 55.2 miles.

Nov. 18, Day 37: The birds are grounded today. Young #33-07 is easy to spot because he still has the many rusty-colored feathers of a younger crane. He has caught up with the older cranes in flight endurance, and has been flying really well!

Poster Operation Migration

Nov. 23, Day 42: #33-07 couldn’t keep up and dropped out of today’s flight from Morgan County, Indiana on the way to Kentucky. The tracking team was unable to find him, but the search continued. They will make every effort to find and rescue him.

Nov. 26, Day 45: The full-scale search continues for #33-07 on this no-fly day in Kentucky. The news made the radio, TV, and newspapers as people were asked to report any sightings.

Nov. 28: Day 47: #33-07 is found!!!

Megan of Operation Migration with #33-07 at the Cumberland County, TN pen site in December, 2007

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but a day for exercise. After flying in the misty air and running around in the rain, it was time for the birds to go back into the pen. Thirteen went in, but four were holdouts—including #33-07. The four would not budge. Just when the costumes thought they got one headed the right direction, the bird would spin away and run back to join the others, like a game of tag in the rain!

Dec. 29, Day 68: This was the day they flew over the Cumberland Ridge! 

Jan. 28, 2008: The longest journey south in the flock’s history is complete!

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (#33-07, #13-07, #12-07, #6-07, and #27-07) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2, and once again afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them, including #33-07, landed in Stewart County, Georgia. (Unfortunately, #27-07 dropped out about 6 miles south of the other four.) On April 3rd, the four males (#6-07, #12-07, #13-07 and #33-07) continued migration to DeKalb County, Alabama.

Tracker Eva Szyszkoski took this photo of #33-07 in DeKalb County, Alabama.

Rain kept them grounded for several days. On April 5, #33-07 separated from the group. He continued migration by himself on April 6 to Jackson County, TN and April 7 to Orange County, Indiana. The next day (April 8) he continued migrating north. His signal was lost as he neared Chicago and met with strong winds and rain. Just one day away from Necedah, he was likely to become the second ultralight (UL) bird to finish his spring migration — but trackers had no further signal or sign of him until May 6:

Photo: Colleen Wisinski, ICF

We first heard him on May 6 and tracked him to an area about 10 miles south of the refuge,” wrote Colleen. May 7 Anna tracked him to an area north of Wisconsin Dells (about 40 miles south of the refuge). So May 8, he came all the way back to the refuge, but he didn’t stop there. He finally landed in a cornfield about 25 miles south of the refuge. He was alone and I could see him preening. I was really excited that I had managed to keep track of him all day and then figure out where he’d landed. But he had other plans. About 15 minutes after he had landed, he started flying again. He flew right past a group of 8 Sandhill Cranes that had been hidden from my view. Then they joined him and all nine of them started circling higher and higher into the sky until they disappeared. So I started following them as they headed toward the refuge. But only 5 miles from the refuge, I lost his signal as he landed for the night and I was not able to find him. The good thing is he’s close to the refuge, so we should be able to find him tomorrow, and now he’s with some other cranes!”

He was seen in Iowa County, Wisconsin in early June. A Whooping crane was spotted in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, in mid August and it turned out to be #33-07!

Fall 2008: On November 17 crane #33-07 was detected migrating in southern Wisconsin. He was in Illinois Nov. 17 but was not tracked. Did getting lost for five days in Kentucky last year confuse his memory? Maybe not: he was found in Polk County, Florida on December 31. He was not associating with the other three Whooping cranes at that location during that or later observations.

Spring 2009: Cranes #33-07, #6-07, #12-07, and #13-07 were still in Polk County, Florida through at least April 4. On April 29, crane #33-07 was back in Wisconsin. His signal was heard as he flew in/over/around the refuge briefly. He spent the summer unpaired and was reported in Chippewa County, WI in September.

Fall 2009: #33-07 was staging with Sandhill cranes in Clark County, WI as of October 26. He was last reported on Jasper-Pulaski FWA, Indiana, on December 6. He was reported with non-migratory sandhills in Polk County, FL, on February 15.

Spring 2010: His nonfunctional transmitter was replaced on February 26 on his Florida wintering area. He remained there with non-migratory sandhill cranes until he apparently began migration on March 28. Aviculturists working in Crane City at International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, were visited by #33-07 on April 4! He circled several times, landed in a prairie south of ICF’s breeding facility, circled again and landed right in Crane City right beside the pen of a Whooping crane pair. “He seemed a little too at home in Crane City,” Kim Boardman said. “Aviculturists had to finally flush him out as the ICF cranes were quite unhappy with his presence. He circled several more times before making his way towards the northwest.” Kim noted that while in the past Whooping cranes had over-flown ICF, this is the first known time one actually landed there. He was detected April 5 on Necedah NWR during an aerial survey and again in flight headed back to the refuge from southeastern Wisconsin on April 18. He landed just outside Crane City, ICF (again), on April 30 and was again flushed by caretakers.

Fall 2010: Crane #33-07, along with #7-09, #5-09, and #42-09 (DAR) were reported in Shelby County, Alabama, on December 8. Tracker Eva discovered the group again on January 28, 2011. “They are at #33-07’s previous wintering territory from two winters ago down in Polk County, Florida. This was the first time that area had been checked this winter, so they have probably been there for quite some time.”

Spring 2011: Crane #33-07 and #5-09, #7-09, and #42-09 (DAR) were reported in LaSalle County, Illinois, on March 24 and resumed migration from this location on March 30. They were found at their previous summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin, on April 4. They began incubating on their nest May 4. On June 12 , after 40 days of incubation (10 days longer than normal), a single egg was collected from their nest. They did not attempt another nest this summer.

Fall 2011: Pair #33-07 and #5-09 with pair #24-09 and #42-09 (DAR) began migration between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2. They were found in Vigo County, Indiana, during a tracking flight on Dec. 3. They showed up in Hopkins County, Kentucky at the end of January.

Spring 2012: Pair #33-07 and #5-09— with pair #24-09 and #42-09 (DAR )— completed migration back to their usual summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 12 or 13. On March 19 they were observed in nest building activity. They were found with a nest on April 2 but it was abandoned on April 7. They were seen with a new nest in Adams County on the April 26 nesting survey flight and were still incubating on the May 21 survey flight. They continued incubating after the eggs were full term, and the eggs never hatched. No chicks for this pair in 2012.

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

Fall 2012: Pair #33-07 and #5-09 migrated back to Hopkins County Kentucky in the fall, arriving by November 30.

Spring 2013: Pair #33-07 and #5-09 began migration from Kentucky location around March 20th or so, and completed spring migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 31. By mid April they were reported nesting, but the nest had failed by May 6.

Fall 2013: Male #33-07 and his mate #5-09 again migrated south to Hopkins County, Kentucky, arriving about November 14. On Nov. 25 a local resident reported #5-09 as injured, but still able to fly. On Nov. 27 the much weakened #5-09 was rescued and taken to a Kentucky rehabilitation center for surgery but doctors were unable to save her. On December 13, the scavenged remains of her mate #33-07 were found about five miles away.

Investigators believe both were unlawfully shot during the same incident. Federal wildlife authorities had kept quiet about the deaths of these endangered birds while more evidence was gathered, but announced the bad news in a press release on January 15, 2014. They want the public’s help in finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice for their crime.

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Crane #35-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 10, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green 

Personality and Characteristics: Migration Training – She came to Wisconsin in cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. Little #35-07 is a timid bird, and has been spooked once or twice (including an incident with a female deer!). Still, she remains a good follower and stays out of everyone’s way. In the 4th week of July, she still had some of her soft, fluffy down, giving her a fuzzy appearance. By July 31 she was still developing her primary flight feathers. She ran behind the trike with her heavy wings held out. Even though she and her young pal #33-07 couldn’t keep up with the others in their group, the two youngsters always tried. And they always came up to the trike at the end of the training session. 

In mid August, #35-07 was let out of the pen after the two older birds in her cohort had some training time. Then pilots slowed the pace down for her and #33-07 (the two youngest birds) so all four in this group could train together. She made progress, mostly flying in ground effect. On September 8 it was too windy for the four youngest chicks to train but they were let out of the pen to exercise. Little #35-07 took advantage of the freedom to fly a couple of lengths of the grass runway. By mid-September she was able to fly circles in the air.

A day after health checks, one of her wings was drooping. Over the next 10 days or so, she could tuck her wing back up, but was the wing really getting better? Bad weather has prevented them from training much. On days they did train, she didn’t fly very well. But good news came on Sept. 14 when Megan let #35-07 out by herself to exercise. Megan said, “She caught the wind and rose higher than I’ve ever seen the chicks go without an ultralight! She flew a loop over the pen, landed next to me and went right up again. She landed once more, but then flew the length of the runway only a few feet above the ground. Then she took off again! When #35-07 landed next to me, I tried to use my vocalizer to lure her back to the pen. But it was too cold to work! Instead, I turned towards the pen and started running. When I looked back the first time, she was only watching me at a standstill. To my dismay, the second time I turned, she was flying in the opposite direction! But as I watched, she turned and flew straight at me. She was too high to land and banked right to fly a wide arch over the pen, the marsh and the other end of the runway, before landing right beside me in front of the pen door. All this from an injured bird!” So, it looks like #35-07’s wing is better again! Best of luck to the youngest bird on her first migration!

First Migration South: Chick #35-07 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #35-07 below.

Oct. 13, Day 1: The youngest of the 17 birds and the newest flyer, #35-07 made the 4-mile flight on departure day! Richard led her on his wing and she was the last bird to arrive, but she made it all the way under her own power!

Oct. 23, Day 11: This was only the second day of actual flying during the migration, and after 10 days off, #35-07 wasn’t eager to fly. She dropped before she had gone a mile and the ground crew took off to find her. Richard flew in and tried to pick her up, but she was unwilling to take to the air so the handlers moved in to crate her and drive her to Stopover #2.

Nov. 18, Day 37: Nathan and Megan say that #35-07 is easy to spot because she still has many rusty-colored feathers of a younger crane. She is gaining strength and endurance, and has been flying really well!

#35-07 eats pumpkin on a no-fly day in December, 2007. Photo: Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but a day for exercise. After flying in the misty air and running around in the rain, it was time for the birds to go back into the pen. Thirteen went in, but four were holdouts, including #35-07. The four would not budge. Just when the “costumes” thought they got one bird headed the right direction, the bird would spin away and run back to join the others, like a game of tag in the rain!

February 2008: Now at the winter site at “Chass,” #35-07 is being watched because of some trouble with her wing. See what happened in this slide show.

Spring 2008, First Migration North: On March 28, the youngest bird in the Class of 2007 became the first to make it back to Wisconsin—but she got help. She was airlifted back to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Until she can fly again, she will live in a travel pen there. A team from ICF and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will tend to her. Now that #35-07 is not facing a 1200-mile migration, she only needs to recover well enough to fly in the local area at the summer nesting grounds. Then she can be released again. Thanks to the veterinary care team at Disney World and WCEP partners and supporters, young #35-07 has one more chance at being wild.

March 2008: It was decided that Crane #35-07 will not migrate this spring because she is unable to fly. View this slide show to find out why:

When Cranes Get Sick: The Story of Crane #35-07

April 10, 2008: Crane #35-07 will live in a pen at Necedah and get physical therapy in hope she will fly again. Sara reported: “She is doing well though still won’t fully extend her wings. Before she left Florida we were doing physical therapy on her wings. Now that more of the tracking team is back in WI, we’ll begin that therapy again. At first I was concerned that there could be problems if older whooping cranes discovered #35-07 in that pen. I was worried she might become stressed and pace in her pen, but she’s been visited by #16-02 and also by #11-02 & #17-02, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s very calm and doing well living in that pen.

Here is #35-07 with a snake in her pen at Necedah in April, 2008.

Without adequate physical therapy, she still was not flying by early summer, 2008. Her genetic bloodline is valuable, so #35-07 will go to a new home to become a parent bird. She will live at Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans, LA. The flock population was reduced by one with her July departure.

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Group Two – Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Cranes

Group 2 chicks are also captive-born. They are released and follow older cranes in a program called Direct Autumn Release or DAR.

Crane #36-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 25, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/green/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Caretakers nicknamed this bird “Ratchet” after he was hatched at ICF, but his official and only real name is #36-07. He visited the doctor a lot during his chickhood. He had a condition in which his eye and head got swollen. He also had stitches for a cut on his neck. He was the dominant chick in the group until #37-07 took over!

#36-07 was released with DAR #41-07, #45-07, and #46-07 by a pool at Necedah NWR at dusk on October 29. They flew to the nearby main sandhill crane roost, which was also occupied by adult whooping crane pair #12-03 and #16-03.

History

First Migration South: DAR #36-07 began migration on October 31 along with DAR #41-07 and DAR #46-07! The following morning, he and and #46-07 continued migration with #46-07.

Trackers lost their signals south of Mauston, WI. On November 1, he and DAR #46-07 continued southward to western Indiana. They made further progress in Indiana on November 2. On Nov. 3 they were tracked to Grayson County, Kentucky — but then they separated. On November 4, 36-07’s body was discovered by trackers under a power-line. He had died in a collision with the power-line—one of the biggest dangers to migrating cranes. 

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Crane #37-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 27, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/green/white Right: red/green

Personality and History

After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Lathe” by caretakers, but his real and only official name is DAR #37-07. He is a strong male who took over the dominant role from #36-07.

He was released on Necedah NWR the evening of Oct. 30 together with DAR #40-07, #42-07, and #44-07. DAR #37-07 and DAR #42-07 flew to roost on the north Sandhill roost, and he is having fun flying around the refuge and nearby areas.

DAR chicks #37-07, #39-07, #40-07, #42-07, #43-07, and #44-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow her south!

History
First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies. They flew south 214 miles and landed to roost in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. (See their map.) They were not with other cranes. What will happen next?

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team so the birds could more easily find adult cranes to follow south. DAR #37-07, #42-07, and #44-07 remained in the area around Meigs County, Tennessee, in great habitat for cranes.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Male #37-07 began migration March 16 from his wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #39-07, #42-07, #43-07, #44-07, and #46-07. They made good progress, roosting for one night in Adair County, Kentucky and then resuming migration the next day to Clark County, Indiana (they were not with sandhill cranes when seen here). On March 21, they continued migration to Fayette County, Indiana. PTT data (satellite data) for DAR #39-07, #44-07, and #46-07 indicated they finally moved again on April 16. The group proceeded to Tuscola County, Michigan. They were still there as of mid May, although some members of the group briefly wandered away and returned. On June 2 trackers traveled to the cranes’ location to try to capture them all and bring them back to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin with other members of the new Eastern flock. Only one crane, #37-07, was successfully captured and he’s now back at Necedah NWR. Will this convince him to migrate back to Wisconsin next spring?

Fall 2008: Successfully migrated south to his previous wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee. Still there on March 8, 2009, so he has apparently decided this is his favorite wintering place. It’s a good choice!

Spring 2009: DAR #37-07 (with #5-01, #1-05 and #6-05) was confirmed by radio signal near Armstrong Bend, Tennessee on March 8. No further reports of DAR #37-07 on spring migration but he was confirmed in northeastern Jackson County, Michigan, on June 14. He remained there all summer and did not return to Wisconsin.

Fall 2009: DAR #37-07 (DAR) was still seen in Jackson County, Michigan, on November 17 and November 28. An unconfirmed report of a Whooping crane in Jackson Co, Michigan, on 7 December may have been of this crane. By early January he was reported at his normal wintering grounds on Hiwassee State Refuge in Miegs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2010: Still in Tennessee as of April 7. . . but #37-07 (DAR) was seen on the morning of April 12 back in his Jackson County, Michigan summer location, quickly completing his migration. He was still there in June. He favors Michigan over Wisconsin for his summer territory.

Fall 2010: Male #37-07 (DAR) remained in Jackson County, Michigan at least through the morning of November 28. He arrived at Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, Tennessee, between 6 and 10 December.

Spring 2011: A Whooping crane reported in Jackson County, Michigan on March 29 was confirmed on April 20 as being #37-07 (DAR).

Fall 2011: He migrated south and spent winter at his usual area on Hiwassee NWR in Tennessee.

Spring 2012: He migrated back to his summer location in Michigan.

Fall 2012: News of #37-07 DAR came from a Michigan citizen in October when the bird was seen in Shiawassee County, Michigan, with a small flock of sandhill cranes. “He looks very healthy and well,” wrote the observer. He migrated back to his wintering location at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee and started associating with female #23-10 after the death of male #21-10.

Spring 2013: He began spring migration from Tennessee with female #23-10 and the two were reported in Scott County, Indiana, on March 27. They continued migration from this point, but soon split. Male #37-07 was reported in Isabella County, Michigan on April 23, this time with male #38-09 (who split from female #34-09 earlier this spring).

Fall 2013: Male #37-07 wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee with many other Whooping and Sandhill cranes. He was often seen with breeding pair #5-10 and #28-08.

Spring 2014: Crane #37-07 DAR began migration with pair #5-10/#28-08 from their wintering area at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on 21/22 February. They were reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on the evening of Feb 22nd and stayed until March 21, when they apparently left this area (a signal for #5-10 was detected heading north. Male #37-07 has a nonfunctional transmitter and thrilled WCEP team when he finally showed up on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on July 11—the first observation of him in Wisconsin this year, and the first time he has returned to Wisconsin on his own!

Fall 2014: Crane #37-07 DAR was captured September 11 for transmitter replacement. A brief health check was performed too. Notice the hood over the crane’s head/eyes during the exam. They looked especially at #37-07’s beak, which has a slight deformity. Captures help biologists keep records of these abnormalities and they are able to monitor them over time. They also check the condition of the wing feathers. “This helps us get a better understanding if the bird has recently molted or not,” explains ICF’s Eva Szyszkoski. “Birds with clean, intact feathers may have molted that year while birds with ratty, dirty feathers probably have not. Whooping cranes do a complete molt every 2-3 years, meaning that they lose all their flight feathers all at once. This is a dangerous time for them since they are completely flightless for about 6 weeks. They need to be in an area with stable water conditions so they can remain safe from predators.” 

Crane #37-07 DAR began fall migration from the Necedah area on Nov. 5 and spent winter at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee.

Spring 2015: Male #37-07 DAR left his wintering grounds in early March and was first reported at necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 31. He did not nest this spring, but spent some time alone and some time with other Whooping Cranes.

Fall 2015: Crane #37-07 DAR migrated south to Alabama’s Wheeler NWR.

Spring 2016: Crane #37-07 DAR returned north to Juneau County, Wisconsin and spent summer there.

Fall 2016: He was still in Juneau County, WI with female PR #20-14 as of Dec. 4. The pair then migrated to wintering grounds in Jackson County, Alabama.

Spring 2017: Male #37-07 DAR and mate PR #20-14 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, built a nest (she is only three years old!) and were incubating when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight. By June 4th this male and his mate hatched the first ever wild chick (#W15-17) to a Parent Reared Whooping crane. Female #20-14 is one of the first cranes in the population to have been raised by parents in captivity and then released in the fall in Wisconsin.

Whooping crane #W15-17 appears to be ~3 days of age in this photo captured by Bev Paulan during an aerial survey on June 7th.

Sadly female #20-14, Mom to W15-17 was killed sometime over the weekend of July 1-2nd. Bev captured this photo showing Dad #37-07 provisioning for the small chick alone. 

Click to enlarge. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR.

Number W15-17 lived until July 8-9th when refuge staff collected its remains. It was roughly 35 days old when it died. 

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Crane #39-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 4, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/green/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Wingnut” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #39-07. DAR #39-07 had some damage to her bill from running into the fence when she was afraid.

She and DAR #43-07 were released together October 30, 2007 on Necedah NWR with adult Whooping Crane #2-01. That night she roosted in the day pen marsh. She later joined five other DAR chicks that were still on the refuge. These six stayed together the rest of the week. They roosted each night at Site 3 with adult female #2-01. This DAR group moved around to other ponds on or near the refuge during the day. They associated with adult pairs #11-02/#17-02 and #9-03/#3-04 sometimes. Other times they were with Sandhills, or alone.

DAR chicks #39-07, #37-07, #40-07, #42-07, #43-07, and #44-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow her south!

History

Nov. 29 in Illinois. Click to enlarge. Photo: Richard Urbanek WCEP Tracking Team

First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies. They flew south 214 miles and landed to roost in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. They resumed migration Dec. 5 after their roost pond became frozen. With tailwinds, they flew 167 miles and landed to roost in Clinton County, Illinois. 

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team so they could easily find cranes to follow south. But on December 17, DAR females #39-07 and #43-07 flew to Alabama. They stayed until December 23, when they returned and wandered around the Hiwassee area for the rest of December and into January.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Began migration March 16 from her wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #37-07, #42-07, #43-07, #44-07, and #46-07. They made good progress, roosting for one night in Adair County, Kentucky and then resuming migration the next day to Clark County, Indiana. On March 21st, they continued migration to Fayette County, Indiana. PTT data (satellite data) for DAR #39-07, #44-07, and #46-07 indicated they finally moved again on April 16. The group proceeded to Tuscola County, Michigan. They were still there as of mid May, despite some spring wandering. (On May 14 PTT readings indicated that #39-07 moved to Gladwin County, Michigan. She returned to the Tuscola County site by May 16 and so had the other wanderers.) On June 2 trackers traveled to the cranes’ location to try to capture them all and bring them back to Wisconsin. Only one crane, #37-07, was successfully captured and returned. The tracking team returned June 10 and caught #39-07 and 2 others and brought them back to Wisconsin! She wandered at first and then spent most of the summer in southwestern Minnesota. PTT readings in September showed she was still there, along with males #3-07 and #7-07, and female #42-07 (DAR).

Fall 2008: A high-precision PTT reading for female #39-07 (still in the Minnesota group with #3-07, #7-07 and DAR #42-07) indicated a migration stop near St. Clair County, Illinois, on the night of November 16. The group wintered in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Spring 2009: PTT data from DAR #39-07 (and presumably her group with #3-07, #7-07, and DAR #42-07) put her (and probably the others) in Madison County, Alabama on the night of March 19 and in Marshall County, Kentucky on the night of March 22 as they migrated north. She was confirmed back in Wisconsin by March 26-27. On April 22 nest building was confirmed for DAR #39-07 and crane #7-07. This is a good sign, but they are still too young to lay eggs. Next they wandered back into southeastern Minnesota, where they spent much of last summer and fall — but they returned to the core area in Wisconsin between wanderings.

Fall 2009: DAR #39-07 was reported in Waseca County, MN, along with #7-07 in early October. Based on PTT readings for DAR #39-07, they remained there throughout the month; however, no visual sightings of the pair were reported. Later PTT readings indicated that she and #7-07 were still present in Steele County, Minnesota, on the night of November 24, but that migration had begun by November 30, when they were at an overnight stop in McLean County, Illinois. They continued migration on December 3 and roosted that night in Greene County, Indiana. They departed on Dec. 4 and completed migration to their previous wintering grounds in Lowndes County, Georgia, on December 7.

Spring 2010: PTT readings for #39-07 DAR from March 30 indicate that she is back in the area of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Trackers assumed #7-07 (hereafter known as #7-07, per WCEP naming conventions) was still with her and by April 20 the pair had moved back to Minnesota—but then later came back to Wisconsin. In July the tracking team captured her and removed her PTT. Sara said, “Now instead of that white PTT she has WGW on her left leg and still a RG transmitter on her right leg.” Cranes #7-07 and #39-07 (DAR) were reported in Minnesota’s Goodhue County on September 13 and were later observed in flight headed SW.

Fall 2010: Female #39-07 (DAR) and her mate #7-07 were seen in Minnesota’s Le Sueur County on Nov. 12. By Nov. 29 they had migrated to Lowndes County, Georgia. Here they are in the same location as #3-07 and #38-08 (DAR). The landowner sent this photo to Operation Migration:

Spring 2011: Began migration from Georgia starting March 8. Female #39-07 (DAR) was reported back in the Necedah NWR area by March 21 with male #7-07. They soon built their very first nest and began incubating two eggs April 25. Their nest and eggs failed May 4. 

In September the pair was again reported in Rice County, Minnesota. They have a history of moving into Minnesota in the summer or fall every year (except for last 2010 when they molted and were unable to fly for about 6 weeks). Tracker Eva says: “They will most likely begin migration south from Minnesota and will not return to Wisconsin before then.” Sure enough, they were reported in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, on October 2-5.

Fall 2011: Female #39-07 (DAR) and her mate #7-07 were on their winter territory in Lowndes County, Georgia by December 4, according to the Georgia landowners who host them and also pair # 3-07, #38-08 (DAR) on their property each winter. They wrote: “In the four years that they have been coming, we have worked hard to maintain and encourage an estuary in the back of our pasture and return the land the way it was before we ever moved here. We are now home to several varieties on waterfowl. Last year we even had 3 Sandhill cranes move in, but I haven”t seen them this year. Cranes #39-07 and #7-07 adopted them and it was fascinating to watch #39-07 ‘mother’ them.”

#39-07 (DAR) and #7-07.
Photo: Susan Braun

#7-07 & #39-07 (DAR) and #3-07 & #38-08 (DAR) in Feb. 2012
Photo: Susan Braun

Spring 2012: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07 were detected on March 11 on Necedah NWR, migration complete! On April 15 tracker Eva observed one bird standing and preening on what looked like a nest platform while the other bird foraged nearby. Their nest with two eggs was confirmed on April 17. The eggs should have hatched on May 16. On May 21, trackers reported that one of the two eggs was brought back to ICF. The pair continued to incubate the other egg but it never hatched and the pair left the nest: No chicks this summer.

Fall 2012: She arrived about 4 pm on November 29, reported the thrilled Georgia landowner on whose farm she spends winters with her mate #7-07. They hang around the pasture most of the time. The pals that arrived with them, pair #3-07 and #38-08 (DAR), come and go from the pasture. The male (#3-07) went missing in mid December but his mate remained with this pair. 

#39-07 (DAR) and #7-07. Photo: Susan Braun

Spring 2013: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07, still in the company of female #38-08 (DAR), were spotted March 19 near Pecatonica, IL. on their spring migation north! They left Georgia the previous week, and were reported back at Necedah NWR on March 29! Female #38-08 (DAR) was still with them. The pair was late in nesting, but were incubating an active nest on June 4, and still incubating on June 11! The pair did not hatch out any chicks but two eggs were recovered from their nest after they incubated them for a full five days beyond the expected hatch date. The eggs were not viable.

Fall 2013: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07 were “home for Thanksgiving,” reported the Georgia landowner on whose land the pair resides in winter. The pair arrived Nov. 20. “We have made sure they will be happy on the pasture and won’t feel the need to investigate elsewhere this year. One area is very marshy, with deep enough water in another part and plenty of high-and-dry areas in between.”

Spring 2014: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07 migrated back to Wisconsin and nested in Juneau County. The nest was still active as of April 30 but abandoned in May.

Fall 2014: Female #39-07 (DAR) and her mate #7-07 migrated to their wintering home and were once again “home for Thanksgiving,” reported the Georgia landowners who welcomed these cranes back to their property for the 8th year. With the cranes on arrival Nov. 23 was their adopted juvenile female #19-14, a chick from the parent-reared (PR) program. PR chicks are hatched and raised initially by their captive parents and then later released in the wild near adult pairs in hopes they will be adopted by them and learn the eastern flock’s migration route. Chick #19-14 was released near this reliable pair before fall migration. They did indeed adopt her and lead her south to their winter territory. Well done, crane family! “They seem to be awesome parents,” observed the landowners.

Spring 2015: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07 were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey. Their adopted, parent-reared chick #19-14 returned (with them?) on March 19! The adult pair’s first eggs were removed April 16 by biologists in a forced re-nesting program, and their second nest produced chick #W21-15 on June 2. The chick was seen alive on June 23, but did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Female #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07 migrated for the 9th autumn to their usual wintering home, once again thrilling the Georgia landowners with their Thanksgiving week arrival.

Spring 2016: Female #39-07 DAR and mate #7-07 were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 30 aerial survey. They were observed on a nest May 5 and it appears the eggs were infertile or not viable, as they were still sitting when the nest was overdue. The nest failed and the pair parted.

Fall 2016: The last sighting for this female was September 9, 2016 when Bev Paulan spotted her on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

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Crane #40-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 5, 2007
Legbands: Left: green/white Right: red/green

Personality and History

After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Torque” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #40-07. She was released on Necedah NWR the evening of Oct. 30 together with DAR #37-07, #42-07, and #44-07. She stayed close to familiar areas and roosted in the day pen marsh with DAR #39-07, DAR #43-07 and female adult Whooping Crane #2-01. Will she follow adult #2-01 on migration? We will wait and see!

DAR chicks #40-07, #37-07, #39-07, #42-07, #43-07, and #44-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow her south!

History 

First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies.

Nov. 29 in Illinois. Click to enlarge. Photo: Richard Urbanek
IWCEP Tracking Team

They flew south 214 miles and roosted in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. They resumed migration Dec. 5 after their roost pond became frozen. With tailwinds, they flew 167 miles to Clinton County, Illinois. 

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team. Now they can easily find cranes to follow. DAR #40-07 separated from the other DAR chicks on Dec. 13 and stayed with wintering sandhills in Franklin County, Tennessee for a while before moving to her final wintering location in Obion County, Tennessee.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: DAR #40-07 became the first Hatch Year 2007 chick to head north! She departed Obion County, Tennessee on March 1 or 2. By March 12 she was at Jasper-Pulaski State Fish & Wildlife Area in northwestern Indiana, where she stayed until late April. This is a major migration stopover for sandhills and Whooping Cranes. She is traveling with thousands of sandhills, and is less than 360 miles away from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. She was still at this stopover as of April 21, but on April 27, PTT data indicated that she was in Michigan. By May 5 she had moved to Allegan County, Michigan. The WCEP team did not try to capture and retrieve #40-07 (like they did with the other DAR birds in Michigan) because she was with sandhill cranes and they would not have been able to get to her before she took flight with the other startled cranes. PTT readings on the night of September 29 indicated she was still in the area.

Fall 2008: She was alone, not with sandhills, at a small pond in Allegan County, Michigan, on November 17. High-precision PTT readings specifying this location continued to be received for 5 different nights (19 November – 3 December), even after the pond was frozen and the landowner no longer saw the bird. A ground search was conducted on 6-8 December 6-8, when the area was under 1.5 feet of snow. No evidence of #40-07 was found. Trackers suspect she has died.

Death Confirmed March 9, 2009: The landowner in Allegan County, MI (where this crane was last observed on November 17) found the bird’s scattered remains and destroyed PTT.

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Crane #41-07

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 8, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/red/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Rivet” by caretakers, but his real and only official name is DAR #41-07. He was a mellow chick.

He and DAR #36-07, #45-07 and #46-07 were released together on a pool at Necedah NWR on the evening of October 29, 2007. All four of them flew to the nearby main sandhill crane roost, which was also occupied by adult pair #12-03 and #16-03.

History

First Migration South: DAR #41-07 left the Wisconsin refuge but before he could get a good start on migration he was struck and killed by a small jet at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison on October 31, 2007.

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Crane #42-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 8, 2007
Legbands: Left: green/red/white Right: red/green

Personality and History: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Plumb-bob” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #42-07. She seemed short and squat, almost bowlegged, as she started growing. She was low girl on the totem pole. She used to be aggressive but she got VERY scared one night. Marianne thinks that a bear might have come around and terrified her.

DAR #42-07 was released on October 30 on Necedah NWR along with DAR #37-07, #40-07, and #44-07. She flew with #37-07 to roost on the north Sandhill roost on her first night of freedom.

DAR chicks #42-07, #39-07, #37-07, #40-07, #43-07, and #44-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow her south.

History 

First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies.

Nov. 29 in Illinois. Click to enlarge. Photo: Richard Urbanek
IWCEP Tracking Team

They flew south 214 miles and landed to roost in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. They resumed migration Dec. 5 after their roost pond became frozen. With tailwinds, they flew 167 miles and landed to roost in Clinton County, Illinois. 

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team so they could more easily find adult cranes to follow south. DAR #42-07, #37-07, and #44-07 remain in the area around Meigs County,

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Began migration March 16 from her wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #37-07, #39-07, #43-07, #44-07, and #46-07. They made good progress, roosting for one night in Adair County, Kentucky and then resuming migration the next day to Clark County, Indiana. On March 21st, they continued migration to Fayette County, Indiana. PTT data (satellite data) for DAR #39-07,#44-07, and #46-07 indicated they finally moved again on April 16. The group proceeded to Tuscola County, Michigan for several weeks. They were still there as of mid May, although some members of the group briefly wandered away and returned. On June 2 trackers traveled to the cranes’ location to try to capture them all and bring them back to Wisconsin. Only one crane, #37-07, was successfully captured and returned. The tracking team returned June 10 and caught #42-07 and 2 others and brought them back to Wisconsin! She wandered all summer, and spent time in southeastern Minnesota. PTT readings in September showed she was still there, along with males #3-07 and #7-07, and female #39-07 (DAR).

Fall 2008: DAR #42-07’s group headed south Nov. 15 from Minnesota. A high-precision PTT reading for DAR female #39-07 ( in the Minnesota group with #7-07, #3-07 and DAR #42-07) indicated a migration stop near St. Clair County, Illinois, on the night of November 16. This group wintered in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Spring 2009: PTT data from DAR #39-07 (and presumably her group with #3-07, #7-07, and DAR #42-07) put her (and probably the others) in Madison County, Alabama on the night of March 19 and in Marshall County, Kentucky on the night of March 22 as they migrated north. She was confirmed back in Wisconsin by March 26-27. In May, the “mystery bird” often seen flying with DAR #42-07 was finally identified. When the two birds moved onto a private cranberry farm, Eva and Sara got permission to come onto the farm. The two birds were standing in one of the cranberry beds. Observing from a distance, Eva could read the color bands on the mystery bird and identify him as #16-03. It is exciting that these birds have become a pair.

Fall 2009: Female DAR #42-07 remained in the core area with #16-03 until late September when their pair bond ended. Then she began associating with DAR #27-06 in early October. The newly formed pair remained at Quincy Bluff in Adams County, Wisconsin, through out October. She was reported in Dane County, Wisconsin, from November 15-25 with #27-06 (DAR) and #24-05. They were no longer at this location on November 26 and completed their migration in Morgan County, Alabama.

Spring 2010: Crane #42-07 (DAR) began migration from Alabama with male #27-06 (DAR) and #24-05 after March 6. She and #24-05 were found back in Adams County during an aerial survey on April 5.

Fall 2010: #42-07 (DAR) and #24-05 were confirmed at their wintering area on Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, on November 29.

Spring 2011: #42-07 (DAR) and #24-05 were observed in flight on the morning of March 3 and did not return to their winter location. They were back in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 21. The pair nested for the first time and began incubating on April 24. The nest failed on April 29 but two fertile, viable eggs were collected.

Death: Sad news came on June 13, 2011 when the carcasses of this breeding pair were found on their Adams County territory by ICF Field Ecology Intern Mike Wheeler. Both carcasses were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Heath Center in Madison, Wisc. for necropsy. The suspected cause of death for the female was septicemia, and analysis of lab cultures and tissues is pending. (The carcass of male #14-05 was too decomposed to determine the cause of death and tissues were unsuitable for further analysis.

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Crane #43-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 9, 2007
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characterisitics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Caliper” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #43-07. She came from the egg that the Team tried to put into a pair’s nest to be raised by adult whoopers. The pair would not “adopt” the egg, so #43-07 was instead hatched in captivity. She had a difficult time breaking out of the egg, but she grew to be a good-sized female in the middle of the pack.

She was released with DAR #39-07 October 30, 2007 on Necedah NWR by adult Whooping Crane #2-01. They later joined four other DAR chicks that were still on the refuge. These six stayed together the rest of the week. They roosted each night at Site 3 with adult female #2-01. This DAR group moved around to other ponds on or near the refuge during the day. They associated with adult pairs #11-02/#17-02 and #9-03/3-04 sometimes. Other times they were with Sandhills, or alone.

DAR chicks #43-07, #39-07, #37-07, #40-07, #42-07, and #44-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow her south!

History 

First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies. They flew south 214 miles and landed to roost in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. They resumed migration Dec. 5 after their roost pond became frozen. With tailwinds, they flew 167 miles and landed to roost in Clinton County, Illinois. (See their map.)

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team so they could easily find cranes to follow south. But on December 17, DAR females #39-07 and #43-07 flew to Alabama. They stayed until December 23, when they returned and wandered around the Hiwassee area. They remain in Tennessee.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Began migration March 16 from her wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #37-07, #39-07, #42-07, #44-07, and #46-07. They roosted for one night in Adair County, Kentucky and then migrated the next day to Clark County, Indiana. On March 21st, they continued migration to Fayette County, Indiana. On March 22, #43-07 died at that location when she apparently struck powerlines, the greatest danger to migrating cranes. 

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Crane #44-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 11, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Anvil” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #44-07. She was always a very aggressive chick but she was somewhere in the middle of the pecking order of the DAR group of ten chicks.

She was released on Necedah NWR the evening of Oct. 30 together with DAR #40-07, #42-07, and #37-07. She then flew off to land in scrub oak trees where there was no water for safe roosting, so she was retrieved and re-released with the roosting DAR cranes nearby. She stayed with them.

DAR chicks #44-07, #43-07, #39-07, #37-07, #40-07, and #42-07 roosted with adult #2-01 on the night of Nov. 5. That’s a good sign that maybe they’ll follow the adult south!

History

First Migration South: Nov. 6, 2007: The group of 6 DAR chicks joined Whooping Cranes #9-03 and #3-04 and sandhill cranes at another spot on Necedah NWR. Several other adult Whooping Cranes and about 200 sandhill cranes were also nearby. And then the 6 young DAR birds did a surprising thing: they began migration, all by themselves and with no adult whooper or sandhill crane to lead the way! The chicks took off in 20 mph NNW winds under partly cloudy skies. They flew south 214 miles and landed to roost in a small pond in a harvested cornfield in Peoria County, Illinois. They resumed migration Dec. 5 after their roost pond became frozen. With tailwinds, they flew 167 miles and landed to roost in Clinton County, Illinois. (See their map.)

On December 11, 2007, the six off-course cranes were captured and moved to Tennessee by the ICF tracking team so they could more easily find adult cranes to follow south. DAR #44-07, #42-07, and #37-07 remain in the area around Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Began migration March 16 from her wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #37-07, #39-07, #42-07, #43-07, and #46-07. The group stayed in or near Tuscola County, Michigan until June, when trackers were able to successfully capture and bring back all but #44-07. She moved to Arenac County on June 17, a week after the other 3 birds in her group were captured and relocated to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Crane #44-07 was near Mackinaw State Forest at least through the last PTT reading on September 23.

Fall 2008: A high-precision PTT reading indicated a roost location in Paulding County, Ohio on Nov. 18. She was not seen when the area was checked from the ground on Nov. 21. A report of a Whooping crane with 65 sandhills in Wayne County, Indiana, November 29, 2008 was probably #44-07. No subsequent reports.

Spring 2009: No reports in 2009. She usually summers in Michigan and has a lower than average probability of detection.

Fall 2009: No reports in 2009. She usually summers in Michigan and has a lower than average probability of detection.

Spring 2010: No reports. By summer 2010 she was presumed dead and removed from the total count of the Eastern flock.

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Crane #45-07

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 11, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Tweezer” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR 45-07. She often seems more like the baby of the group, even though she is not. She is always first to come for snacks, and Marianne can hear Tweezer’s stomach growl! She is a good size female.

History 

She and DAR #36-07, 41-07 and 46-07 were released together by a pool on Necedah NWR, on the evening of October 29. They flew to the nearby main sandhill crane roost, which was also occupied by the adult pair #12-03 and #16-03, but Tweezer and #41-07 returned to their release area during the night.

Early the next day (Oct.30 ) DAR 45-07 was found dead, killed by a predator (probably a coyote), near the release site.

First Migration South: She was killed before she could begin migration.

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Crane #46-07

Gender: Female 
Hatch Date: June 25, 2007
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching at ICF, this chick was nicknamed “Makita” by caretakers, but her real and only official name is DAR #46-07. She is the youngest but she holds her own with the bigger birds. Her pen mate was aggressive, so she had to figure out early how to take care of herself.

She is a “smart cookie” but worries Marianne because, being 2 weeks younger than the others, she sometimes goes off by herself. She liked to hang out with DAR #43-07.

History 

She and DAR #36-07, #41-07 and #45-07 were released on a pool at Necedah NWR on the evening of October 29, 2007. All four of them flew to the nearby main sandhill crane roost, which was also occupied by adult pair #12-03 and #16-03. DAR #46-07 tried to associate with #12-03 and #16-03 (that’s good!) but was met with aggression (that’s not good).

First Migration South: On Oct. 31, she and DAR #36-07 and DAR #41-07 had rejoined and they began migration! They spent most of the late morning and afternoon flying around before heading south. Trackers lost their signals south of Mauston, WI. On November 1, she and DAR #36-07 continued southward to western Indiana. They made further progress in Indiana on November 2. On Nov. 3 they were tracked to Grayson County, Kentucky. They separated and #46-07 roosted in Daviess County, KY that night. The next day she continued retreating northward to eventually roost in a reservoir in Gibson County, Indiana. She was not with Sandhills and was still at that location as of Nov. 12. She later moved Haywood County, Tennessee and on November 27 she continued southward to Arkansas.

How will she know where to go with no experienced birds to lead the way? Trackers will keep an eye on her.

slide show story about DAR #46-07 by ICF tracker Eva

On Dec. 1, #46-07 got back on track with the help of ICF tracker Richard Urbanek and intern Eva. They caught #46-07 in Arkansas and drove her to Hiwassee State Wildlife Area in Tennessee. They released her that evening in a great place for cranes. The next day she was in a place with thousands of Sandhill Cranes and adult Whooping Crane #20-04! (photo) Experts hope she will stay with her own species so that someday she can mate and raise more Whooping Cranes for the new Eastern flock. She remains in Tennessee at this date.

Spring 2008 and First Unassisted Migration North: Began migration March 16 from her wintering grounds in Meigs Co, Tennessee along with DAR #37-07, #39-07, #42-07, #43-07, and #44-07. They made good progress, roosting for one night in Adair County, Kentucky and then resuming migration the next day to Clark County, Indiana. On March 21, they continued migration to Fayette County, Indiana. PTT data (satellite data) for DAR #39-07, #44-07, and #46-07 indicated they finally moved again on April 16. The group proceeded to Tuscola County, Michigan. They were still there as of mid May, when they briefly scattered to separate locations but soon returned to the Tuscola County location. On June 2 trackers traveled to the cranes’ location to try to capture them all and bring them back to Wisconsin. Only one crane, #37-07, was successfully captured and returned. The tracking team returned June 10 and caught #46-07 and 2 others and brought them back to Wisconsin!

In October, 2008, tracker Eva reported: #46-07 has been hanging out with #11-05 for a while now, and I saw them unison calling one day! The picture is a little blurry because it was from so far away, but it’s very exciting that she seems to have found a male friend. Hopefully she’ll follow him to Florida this fall. Male #11-05 used to hang around Site 3 on the refuge last year when I was a DAR intern. He was always one of our favorite birds to see there because he was so mellow, and he enjoyed being around the costumes and the chicks.”

Photo Eva Szyszkoski, WCEP Tracking Team

Fall 2008: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, DAR #46-07 was in a group of eight (including #10-08, who was removed from the ultralight cohort) 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. On Dec. 22 she resumed migration from White County, TN and arrived in Cherokee County, Alabama with #11-05, #12-05, #16-07, #24-07 and DAR# 37-08. This is where she and #12-04 separated from the others. The two wintered in Alabama.

Spring 2009: DAR #46-07 and #12-04 began migration from Cherokee County, Alabama, on March 17 or 18. DAR #46-07 (and presumably #12-04 was with her) were in Vermillion County, Indiana March 19. The pair was confirmed back in Wisconsin by March 28. Female #46-07 split from #12-04 after arriving on the refuge and was briefly with #11-05 before leaving him for #2-04. The good news is that these two seem to be a pair! They remained together in the core area all summer.

Fall 2009: Pair DAR #46-07 and #2-04 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 male #2-04. They were later that day reported near Concord, Pike County, Georgia. They arrived on Necedah NWR by March 28. On April 1, #46-07 (DAR) was observed unison calling with #11-02 but she went back to her mate #2-04 the next day.

GREAT news! Female #46-07 has a nest! She and her mate #2-04 were observed sitting on a nest near one of the ultralight training sites on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on April 30th. They continued to incubate and were still on the nest as of May 28! She is the first DAR bird that has been part of an active breeding pair since the DAR program began in 2005. But the pair continued to incubate an egg eight days after it was due to hatch. The egg was collected and analyzed at ICF. The ICF veterinary staff found the egg was infertile. No chicks this year. 

Fall 2010: Migrating female #46-07 (DAR) and mate #2-04 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 #2-04. Reported back at Necedah NWR by March 21. They built a nest and began incubating April 19 and on May 16 little #W4-11 hatched!

“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.

By mid June, #W4-11 was the only surviving wild-hatched chick in this summer breeding season. Bad news came with the discovery of the chick’s remains on July 1. Cause of death is being determined through necropsy.

Fall 2011: Began migration Nov. 27. Usually winters in Lake County, Florida, with her mate #2-04, 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: She and her mate #2-04 completed spring migration back to Necedah NWR by March 12. They were found incubating on an April 26 nesting survey flight by trackers. They were off the nest when seen by trackers on the May 21 survey flight, and appeared to be tending a chick. Sure enough, it was chick #W7-12. The chick survived several weeks, but was no longer alive by the July 6 report from tracker Eva at ICF.

On August 28, 2012, female #46-07 was found dead on Necedah NWR. The loss of a breeding female is a great disappointment.

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