Class of 2008

 

Two release methods were used in 2008: Ultralight-guided (Group One) and Direct Autumn Release (Group Two).

Group One – Ultralight-guided Whooping cranes
3-08

Died Apr ’09

4-08 5-08

Pres. Dead ’11

12-08

Pres. dead ’11

13-08

Pres. dead ’13

14-08

18-08

Died Apr ’10

19-08

Died Sept ’09

24-08 26-08

Died Apr ’09

27-08

Died Jan ’12

28-08
29-08 30-08

Died Feb ’12

 
Group Two – Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Whooping Cranes
31-08

Died Jul ’11

32-08

Died Apr ’09

35-08

Died Fall ’08 (soon after release)

36-08

Presumed dead ’11

37-08

Died Apr ’09

38-08 10-08

Presumed dead May ’09

 

All Whooping cranes released in 2008 under the aircraft-guided method learned a migration route by following Operation Migration’s aircraft from Juneau County, Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR to St. Marks NWR in Wakulla County, Florida AND Chassahowitzka NWR in Citrus County, Florida. 

This year TWO winter locations were used. On day 82 Migration to St. Marks NWR was complete for Whooping cranes: #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-09 and #30-08.

On Day 88 or January 23rd, 2009 the seven cranes that would be spending the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR arrived. These include: #24-08, #19-08, #4-08, #3-08, #18-08, #14-08 and #27-08.


Crane #3-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 6, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: green/white/red

Personality and Characteristics: After hatching May 6, the tiny chick was moved from his ICU to a big pen May 7, reported Bev Paulan. “Even in his ICU, a little glimmer of personality showed up. He seems quite the little ‘ham.’ A small camera is on his ICU and quite often he positions himself to look right into the camera, even when we are trying to feed him.”

Barb describes #3-08 as a dominant bird, big and strong in appearance. He had attitude, and showed some aggression to the other chicks. Barb said it’s pretty cute to see their faces when they see #3-08 arrive to join them on a walk. Barb is pretty sure the other two were delighted with their peaceful little adventure, and their “smiles” fade to dismay when they see #3-08 coming to join them! The trainers saw #3-08 go into bully mode and had to separate him from the group on many occasions. Sometimes #3-08 is a real meanie!

Notes from “flight school” in Wisconsin: Arrived in Wisconsin June 25 with cohort 1 (oldest chicks). By mid July he and #4-08 were starting to fly in ground effect. On Aug. 15th, pilot Richard reported that new flier #3-08 took his first full circuit with the trike (along with #4-08 and #5-08)! On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 6.5 kg. He made good training progress and is a good bird. On Oct. 4 pilots and handlers by the pen site spent 45 minutes being entertained by #3-08 and #13-08 trying to chase off #9-05, who had stopped by for a visit. Chick #3-08 is a good, strong flier and ready for the migration. On Oct. 8, a day after cohort-mate #10-08 was removed because of aggressive behavior, the team let #3-08, #4-08 and #5-08 keep #10-08 company in his pen for the morning and all went well.

First Migration South: Chick #3-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #3-08 below.
Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, crane #3-08 and buddies #4-08 and #5-08 turned back to familiar territory and dropped out. The ground crew found these three, crated them, and drove them to Stop #1 in the tracking van!

Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #3-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

Photo: Joe Duff, Operation Migration

December 12, Day 57: Richard battled rough air to gain more altitude. At last they did reach the calm air, but #3-08 kept flying under the wing and seemed to be getting tired. He dropped out about 23 miles from the new stop at Franklin County, AL. Brian retrieved and boxed him with help from Jack Wrighter, top cover pilot. It was a tough day!
 
January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #3-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the third time in this migration.

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #3-08, #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, #19-08, #24-08 and #27-08!

Crane #3-08 has a drink of water at the guzzler in the pen.

Winter at the Chass Pen: “This year #3-08 and #4-04 are the trouble makers. They are the ones that stir up trouble at roost time, and may even fly out of the pen, prompting others to follow,” reported ICF tracker/pen monitor Eva.  

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: #3-08, #24-08 (who is wearing a PTT) and #27-08, the three birds that stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th, left the Chassahowitzka pensite the morning of April 4! Richard Urbanek tracked them to a location about 45 miles almost due east of the town of St. Marks, Florida. On April 4, cranes #3-08, #24-08, and #27-08 arrived in Thomas County, GA and resumed migration on April 6 despite a headwind. As of April 15, they were still in Georgia (Mitchell County), presumably together, on flooded, wet land (good!). They resumed migration to Marshall County, Alabama, on April 17 and then to Christian County, Kentucky, on 18 April. They continued migration to Webster County, Kentucky, on April 21; to Effingham County, Illinois, on April 22; Henry County, Illinois, on April 23 and completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on April 24!Death: The carcass of #3-08 was discovered by ICF Tracking Field Manager Eva Szyszkoski in Wood County, Wisconsin on April 29. Clues indicated possible predation by a bobcat. Crane #3-08 had last been observed alive along with#24-08 and #27-08 at the same location on the previous evening. Remains will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

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Crane #4-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 9, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: white/green/red

Personality and Characteristics

Notes from the captive breeding “hatchery” at Patuxent WRC in Maryland: This chick has a huge personality. He already had a lot to say while still in the egg! Barb said, “When it was in the hatcher, we would check on the egg by making crane vocalizations to assess its strength and progress. Each time I did this, #4 just peeped and peeped and peeped. It was like a little girl who had her phone privileges taken away for a month and finally was able to talk on the phone again to her girlfriends. Chick #4-08 did this before hatching and also after being old enough to go to a pen.

The Class of ’08 in a taxi training session with the aircraft. Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

When I opened the door to the aviary I could hear #4-08 peeping, peeping, peeping in the pen. It seemed like #4-08 was just waiting for someone to come so he could talk their ear off. Always the little talker! At #4-08’s first swimming exercise, he would paddle his little legs the length of the pen like a true Olympian. Every so often #4-08 would stop for a brief rest at the pool’s end, and then get motoring along again like someone shot him out of a cannon. Amazingly enough, #4-08 had very little to say while in the pool as he concentrated on moving the legs and not the little beak!The Aviary is set up with pens lined up along both sides of a long aisle. One day Barb heard two chicks peeping back and forth across the aisle to each other. Then she saw the tiny little shape of #4-08 in the left pen, and #1-08 standing directly across in the right side pen. Both little chicks were standing at their doorways peeping back and forth to each other. Both had so much to say!
Chick #4-08 was always near the front of his group during training, and paid good attention.

Notes from “flight school” at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:

Arrived at Necedah NWR on June 25 with the first group of the Class of 2008. By mid July he and #3-08, the two oldest birds, were starting to fly in ground effect. On Aug. 10 Bev took the group to the marsh where they would be out of sight while the runway grass was cut. Bev said “#4-08 became the most adventuresome of the group and wandered the farthest. At one point he tried climbing up on a very small tussock that gave him that perfect ‘king of the hill’ position. The tussock proved to be too small and too wobbly, so #4-08 was soon back in the water.”

On Aug. 15th, pilot Richard reported that new flier #4-08 took his first first full circuit with the trike (along with #3-08 and #5-08)! On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 6.6 kg.

He became a strong flier and was ready for migration by early October. On Oct. 8, a day after cohort-mate #10-08 was removed because of aggressive behavior, the team let #3-08, #4-08 and #5-08 keep #10-08 company in his pen for the morning and all went well. 

Bees were a problem at the refuge and #4-08 was stung. The bee sting made his beak get out of line, but it was soon back to normal.
Photo: Operation Migration

#4-08 is curious!
Photo: Tara Urette Hood

Sep. 19, 2008 – First Migration South: Chick #4-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #4-08 below.Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, cranes #3-08, #4-08, and #5-08 turned back to familiar territory and dropped out. 

 

The ground crew found these three, crated them, and drove them to Stop #1 in the tracking van! Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: All but one of the birds flew with Brooke at 2,000 feet altitude over the Twin Groves wind farm in Illinois with no problems.

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #4-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven.

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #4-08, #3-08, #14-08, #17-08, #19-08,#24-08 and #27-08! However, #4-08 kept catching thermals and having too much fun to land. He kept flying until the plane was low on fuel. Finally an ultralight led him to a previously used landing site 9 miles away. Then he finished the migration by riding in a box on an airboat to join his flockmates on their remote island at Chass! 

Winter at the Chass Pen: Of the Chass 7, #4-08 is really looking like an adult with the red on his head. “He has the most red on his head. When he’s threatening the costume or another chick, he slicks back the skin on his head and now that it’s turning red, he looks more threatening than a younger bird with no red,” said Sara. Eva said, “This year #3-08 and #4-08 are the trouble makers. They are the ones that stir up trouble at roost time, and may even fly out of the pen, prompting others to follow.”

2009 First Unaided Spring Migration: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, and #19-08 left Florida on March 24 — the first four to leave Florida for Wisconsin on their first unaided migration! On March 31 The PTT on #18-08 indicated she was in Peoria County, IL. Tracking this group, Eva got to that location April 1 but found that crane #19-08 has separated from the others. The three continued migrating April 1 and #4-08, #14-08 and #18-08 were next reported April 7 in McHenry County, Illinois. The three reached Necedah NWR on April 16! They stayed in the area or nearby Dodge County all summer. By late October/early November #14-08, #4-08, and #17-08 joined with #28-08, #24-08, #27-08, and #30-08 there to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Fall 2009: (Also see above) Crane #4-08 was in the group of seven who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #4-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and #30-08, who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. But the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009! Finally they moved to a spot about a mile from the pen site.

Spring 2010: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 remained on Chassahowitzka NWR until they began migration on March 10. They were reported in Barbour County, Alabama, on March 13. PTT readings were later received for #18-08 nearby in Stewart County, Georgia, on the nights of March 18-20. The three were detected on southern Necedah NWR or just south of the refuge on April 1!

#4-08, #14-08, #18-08, #24-08, #27-08, #30-08. Despite being chased away by the winter monitoring team, the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009! Photo: ICF

Fall 2010: Crane #4-08 migrated successfully and was with yearling #10-09 on December 23 in Levy County, Florida. They appeared at the St. Mark’s NWR pensite in Wakulla County, FL during late afternoon on January 24 and stayed until at least January 26. They were not welcome because the newly arrived Class of 2010 chicks were there. They had moved to Dixie County, FL by February 5.

Spring 2011: Began migration March 11 and reported back at Necedah NWR area by March 21 with pal #10-09.

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

Spring 2012: Male #4-08 (still with female #26-07) returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 7! Will these two cranes become a nesting pair?

Fall 2012: Male #4-08 left on fall migration sometime after November 5. He wintered with #26-07 (with whom he had been associating) and pair #11-02 & #30-08 in Vermillion County, Indiana (#30-08 died at this location). Began spring migration after February 24.

Spring 2013: Male #4-08 (still with female #26-07) began spring migration after Feb. 24 and returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 24, only to have his mate, female #26-07, stolen away from him by the widowed #11-02. ICF tracker Eva thinks the new pair of #11-02 and 26-07 will most likely remain together but”we won’t know for sure until nests start.” Meanwhile, #4-08 is looking for a new mate. He was seen with female #W3-10, who had been paired with #29-08. Eva added, “I don’t know if #4-08 and #W3-10 will remain together.”

Fall 2013: Male #4-08 began migration from Necedah NWR with mate #25-09 on November 10. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana on Nov. 15 and remained through at least Dec. 20 before moving to an unknown location (likely due to the extremely cold winter). They were found in Gibson County, Indiana on March 7 and moved north back into Greene County by March 21, 2014. They remained through at least March 27 before continuing north and completing migration.

Spring 2014: Crane #4-08 was back at Necedah NWR with mate #25-09 on March 31. The pair nested and the nest was still active when checked on April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Crane #4-08, with #34-09 DAR, left the Necedah area on migration November 12. They wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Crane #4-08 (who has a nonfunctional transmitter) was likely back with Crane #34-09 DAR, who was observed on territory during the March 25 aerial survey. The pair nested, but the nest had failed by April 15.

Fall 2015: Male #4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR migrated south again to Greene County, Indiana, where they were seen in November.

Spring 2016: Male #4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR returned to Wisconsin and were observed nesting on May 20 in an aerial survey and still nesting on June 7. Their new chick, #W21-16, hatched on June 7 but did not survive into the summer.

Fall 2016: Male #4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR migrated south to Greene County, Indiana, in early November.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #4-08 and #34-09 DAR returned to Wisconsin and were observed still nesting in April in an aerial survey.They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight.

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Crane #5-08

Gender: Male 
Hatch Date: May 9, 2008
Legbands: Left: white/gree/white Right: red/white  

Personality and Characteristics: Crane #5-08 hatched from an egg taken from the deserted nest of the eastern flock’s pair #13-02 and #18-02, who have never raised a chick but laid eggs that became #2-06 and #17-07). He was timid at first. In the few days prior to being shipped to Necedah, #5-08 started to become a little meanie to #7-08, #9-08, #11-08 and his early pal, #4-08. This cohort, including the oldest and most unruly of the 2008 chicks, was delivered to Wisconsin on June 25 with lots of warnings to the team that awaited them.

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge June 25 in cohort 1, the oldest group in age in the Class of 2008.

By mid July he and #3-08 and #4-08 were starting to fly in ground effect. On Aug. 15th, pilot Richard reported that new flier #5-08 took his first full circuit with the trike! He weighed 6.6 kg at the pre-migration health check on Sept. 2.

On Sept. 25, #5-08 dropped out of the training flight and soon returned to the runway. In the swamp monster suit, Bev tried to chase the dropout back in the air. After much running, flapping and panting by Swamp Monster Bev, the chick landed in the marsh. He had defeated the swamp monster, who crawled back into the shed! Chick #5-08 was put in the pen while the other three birds continued to fly. He just wasn’t interested in staying with his flock mates that day.

He is a strong flier and ready for migration. On Oct. 8, a day after cohort-mate #10-08 was removed because of aggressive behavior, the team let #3-08, #4-08 and  #5-08 keep #10-08 company in his pen for the morning and all went well.

#5-08 in October, 2008. Photo: Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #5-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #5-08 below.

Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, cranes #3-08, #4-08 and #5-08 turned back to familiar territory and dropped out. The ground crew found these three, crated them, and drove them to Stop #1 in the tracking van!

October 28, Day 12: Male #5-08 became a good follower. Most days all 14 birds took off. The pilots were very pleased about this! Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #5-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

At the end of December, Heather reported that #5-08 and #14-08 are getting their adult voices. “When they try to squeak they sound like a honky, raspy goose!”

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #5-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the second time during this migration.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Winter at St. Marks: #5-08 still loves the costume! Bev said he’s first in line to greet them when she and Brooke go into the pen at night to check the birds. “He rarely leaves our side. This is a mixed blessing in that we can really give him a good look over, but we are trying to break all the chicks’ dependency on us. He also is very curious, always pecking at our costume, boots, and puppet, and he is tall enough to peck at our helmets. He is a very active bird too, always running around. When not at our side he is running or jumping around, throwing things into the air, chasing #12-08, and generally acting like the teenager he is.” It is hard for him to settle down at night! 

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The others may have been with her, but #13-08 then left the group at some point. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane #26-08 somehow became injured and was rescued by an un-costumed person and taken for medical care, while #5-08 and the others remained together in the area at least until April 7. On April 16, crane #5-08 and his 4 remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR. Migration complete! Crane #5-08 was with #12-08 in Dodge County, WI, much of the summer, and they sometimes associated with #24-08, #27-08, #28-08, and #30-08. They wandered in nearby Sauk, Adams, and Juneau County Wisconsin in the fall.

April 15 in Illinois! Photo: Operation Migration

Fall 2009: Crane #5-08 (with #12-08) departed on fall migration from Columbia County, Wisconsin, on December 10.

Spring 2010: He and #12-08 departed from Columbia County, Wisconsin, on December 10 and no further information was obtained. The signal of #5-08 was detected March 17, March 24 and again on April 1 at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin, but he was never visually confirmed, so remains unconfirmed.

Fall 2010: Male #5-08 was declared presumed dead and counted out of the population at the end of 2011. He had been considered long term missing because no confirmed sighting had been made since Dec. 10, 2009.

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Crane #12-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 22, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/green/white Right:  red/white

Personality and Characteristics: The first hatched in Cohort Two. He had a set of lungs, which made for an eventful and noisy first few days. He is very light in color and very needy, wrote Barb. “Of course he is very cute and worth every minute of care and loving we can give him.” He did very well at his first circle pen training session on May 30.

Said Barb, “This chick and #13-08 were the easiest to train, although he was a screamer at first. He settled down and learned to follow very well. He seems to be a dominant bird in the group. One evening when we were weighing him in the weigh box, he stood up so tall and straight with his little wings to the sides and its head up and little chest out. When we were done weighing the chick Brian said, ‘That chick thinks it’s better than us!'” Crane #12-08 is one of the dominant birds in his group but each one seems to know their place in the hierarchy.

Spending time in the ponded pen at Patuxent. Photo: Brian Clauss

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 9 in cohort 2, the middle group in age in the Class of 2008. He weighed 5.8 kg at the pre-migration health check on Sept. 3. He is the leader of cohort 2.

He is still a leader in the combined cohort 2-3 group. He started out very mellow but got pushy and threw his weight around to let everyone know he is in charge. “No one challenges #12-08,” said Brooke.

Cohort 2 (#12-08 is in the lead). Photo: Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #12-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #12-08 below.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #12-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

Nov. 26, Day 53: He wasn’t too willing to fly today and tried to turn back to the pen upon takeoff. Swamp Monster was called into action. Chicks #12-08, #19-08, and #30-08 were mavericks the whole distance to Cumberland County, Illinois.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

First Winter at St. Marks: Crane #12-08 had his adult voice by February 7. He also was first to have the most red on his head. Bev said, “He is quite proud of this, showing it off frequently.”

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane #26-08 somehow became injured and was rescued by an un-costumed person and taken for medical care, while the other five cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7. (See photo) On April 16, crane #12-08 and his 4 remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR. Migration complete! Cranes #12-08 and #5-08 remained in Dodge County, WI, much of the summer, and they sometimes associated with #24-08, #27-08, #28-08, and #30-08. They wandered in nearby Sauk, Adams, and Juneau County Wisconsin in the fall.

April 15 in Illinois! Photo: Operation Migration

Fall 2009: Crane #12-08 (with #5-08) departed from Columbia County, Wisconsin, on December 10. His winter location was not determined and their have been no further reports.

Fall 2010: Male #12-08 was declared presumed dead and counted out of the population at the end of 2011. He had been considered long term missing because no confirmed sighting had been made since Dec. 10, 2009.

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Crane #13-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 23, 2008
Legbands: Left: white/green Right: red/white  

Personality and Characteristics: Barb calls #13-08 a dream of a little chick. She was eating and drinking on her own at just over a day old. “Although we need to continue to work with the chick on eating and drinking, how quickly this little one has learned. Oh, if they could all be like little #13.”

The largest bird in Cohort 2. Very calm.

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 9 in cohort 2, the middle group in age in the Class of 2008. By Aug. 12 chick #13-08 was following the trike well and, said pilot Richard, “has the wing figured out better than any of the other birds.” She weighed 5.2 kg at her pre-migration health check Sept. 3.

On Oct. 4 the pilot and handlers at the pen spent 45 minutes being entertained by #13-08 and #3-08 trying to chase off male whooping crane #9-05, who had stopped by for a visit.

The team calls #13-08 “Cosmos” because she is so dedicated to the trike! (The ultralight planes are Cosmos brand.)

First Migration South: Chick #13-08 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008. 

Crane #13-08 earned her nickname “Cosmos” by being a loyal follower on every day they flew!

November 21, Day 36: Crane #13-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude.

Photo: Joe Duff, Operation Migration

They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

November 27, Day 42: She flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe’s wing!

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Winter Pen at St. Marks: #13-08’s black “mustache” feathers are already dark, and her head patch is starting to get red. Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. This strong-willed and independent female split off from the group in the next few days and was in southeast Iowa April 7 and earlier, according to data from her satellite transmitter. She was still there as of April 15.

On April 16 she reached eastern Wisconsin. She roosted in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, on the night of April 18. Will she return to the refuge? She wandered and spent much of the summer in Wood County, WI. without the company of other Whooping cranes.

Fall 2009: Still single, she departed from near Lewiston, Columbia/Sauk Counties, Wisconsin, on December 10. She was wintering with sandhill cranes in Panola County, Mississippi, at least through February 20.

Spring 2010: Neither #13-08 nor the sandhills she wintered with were present during the check on February 25 in their Mississippi wintering area. Have they begun migration? No reports as of April 5, but #13-08 was found in Taylor County, WI on April 11!

Fall 2010: Found at Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama, on November 29 and at least through January 7. No further reports from trackers at least through Feb. 14.

Spring 2011: Female #13-08 was found with sandhills in Jackson County, Indiana, on the morning of February 26. She was reported in flight near Necedah NWR on April 6.

Fall 2011: The missing female #13-08 has not been seen since April 6, 2011.

Spring 2012: Female #13-08 is listed as long-term missing.

Winter 2013: #13-08 was presumed dead and removed from the population total of the eastern flock.

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Crane #14-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 25, 2008
Legbands: Left: green/red/white Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: It was an eventful day for those who put #14-08 in his aviary pen for the first time. “Nuts” was the word someone used when they described how #14-08 acted in his new surroundings. What a peaceful moment for everyone when the chick was finally asleep under its heat lamp!

This chick was paired with #15-08 to start trike training. (A big squabble-fest took place when the team tried to train chicks #14-08, #13-08, #14-08, and #15-08 together. They pecked and pushed each other around so much that the “costumes” had to keep them apart!)

The Class of ’08 in a taxi training session with the aircraft. Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 9 in cohort 2, the middle group in age in the Class of 2008. By August 15 he was flying well. He weighed 6.3 kg at the pre-migration health check

Sept. 2. Chick #14-08 had an adventure on Sept. 20. He was flying with the ultralight plane and the other cohort two birds when he broke away to join Joe’s ultralight as he flew nearby. Just then Brooke flew past with the oldest four birds, and #14-08 decided to join them instead. Joe followed the group (now five birds) to their landing at the pen site of cohort one just in case meanie #10-08 caused trouble. Bev rushed out of the pen when they landed to help stop #10-08 from picking on the younger newcomer (#14-08). But — surprise — the unexpected meeting went well!

After a few minutes the four Cohort 1 birds were led back inside their pen. Bev stayed in the pen with them while Brooke and Joe closed the gate and lifted off to lead #14-08 home.

July in Wisconsin. Photo: Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #14-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. 

Oct. 22, Day 6: Flying at 600 feet altitude with #14-08 near his wing, the pilot wrote: “I sat back and enjoyed the scenery and watched as #14-08 studied his new surroundings filled with human-made structures. A couple of times he pulled ahead of me, flying just in front of my trike, and I reached out and tickled his toes with my mitten. He climbed up to the leading edge of my wing and discovered the lift that precedes the wings edge. I bumped up the RPM’s a bit on the engine, pulled the bar in and he slid along the leading edge and fell back into the favorable position at the wingtip. We crossed the interstate highway a few miles from our destination. The birds usually spook at this obstacle, sometimes even turning back. As expected, #14-08 became alarmed at all the vehicle traffic and made a rapid climb above me. He soon settled down and joined back up with me as we crossed over the interstate and began a slow descent down to the valley where the travel pen was set up and waiting. I landed at the pen with #14-08 still locked on my wing. I left the recording of the brood call playing over my loud speaker to help convince the other birds, who were now circling overhead with the other pilots, to land.”

Click to download a video clip of #14-08 in flight: Fly814

Oct. 29, Day 13: October 29, Day 13: #14-08 didn’t take off with the other 13 and Richard, but instead got his own plane to fly with. Later, flying with Joe’s plane, crane #14-08 (with #28-08 in the lead) finds the “sweet spot” close to the trike wing, where he can glide on air currents off the trike’s wing rather than flap his own wings. Nice ride!

Photo: Joe Duff, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #14-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

At the end of December, Heather reported that #14-08 and #5-08 are getting their adult voices. “When they try to squeak they sound like a honky, raspy goose!”

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #3-08, #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, #19-08, #24-08 and #27-08!

Winter at Chass Pen: He became an outcast in late February, getting chased and picked on by the other birds, especially #4-08 and #24-08, and sometimes #3-08. “When we’re out there we try to defend him,” said Sara, “but we have to be careful that this extra attention doesn’t then attract the other birds towards him — resulting in more chasing and attacking. Last night as the birds were settling down to roost #14-08 walked around to the back shore of the pen. Then, for at least 5 minutes, he jumped and danced by himself. He’s always been a bird who jumps and dances around a lot so I was glad to see him still doing this, but really glad he had the sense to do this away from the other birds, or they would surely have picked on him.”

Photo: Sara Zimorski

2009 First Unaided Spring Migration: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, and #19-08 left Florida on March 24 — the first four to leave Florida for Wisconsin on their first unaided migration! On March 31 The PTT on #18-08 indicated she was in Peoria County, IL. Tracking this group, Eva got to that location April 1 but found that crane #19-08 has separated from the others. The three continued migrating April 1 and #4-08, #14-08 and #18-08 were reported April 7 in McHenry County, Illinois. The three reached Necedah NWR on April 16! They stayed in the area or nearby Dodge County all summer. By late October/early November #14-08, #4-08, and #18-08 joined with #28-08, #24-08, #27-08, and #30-08 there to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Despite being chased away by the winter monitoring team, the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009. Photo: ICF

Fall 2009: Crane #14-08 was in the group of seven who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #14-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and #30-08, who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. They moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site.

Spring 2010: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 remained on Chassahowitzka NWR until they began migration on March 10. They were reported in Barbour County, Alabama, on March 13. PTT readings were later received for #18-08 nearby in Stewart County, Georgia, on the nights of March 18-20. The three were detected on southern Necedah NWR or just south of the refuge on April 1!

Fall 2010: Cranes #14-08 and #24-08 remained on Horicon NWR, Dodge County, through at least November 10. Only #14-08 was detected on the evening of November 25 but he was gone by December 1. His signal was detected in Citrus County, Florida, on December 20. where he wintered along with #24-08 and #27-08.

Spring 2011: Cranes #14-08 and #24-08 began migration from Citrus County, Florida, between February 20 and 23. They were at a Morgan County, AL stopover March 11 at least through March 14. He was detected on Necedah NWR on April 6! He was seen building a nest with #24-08, but without results.

Fall 2011: Cranes #14-08 and #24-08 were found in Wabash County, IL during a tracking aerial search on December 3. They were in Edwards County by Dec. 22 and observed there again on Dec. 28 but were not there when on January 6.

Spring 2012: Cranes #14-08 and #24-08 arrived back at Necedah NWR on March 24. They abandoned their first nest and re-nested again in April. By May 10 they were acting like they had a chick (#W4-12). When observed again on May 21 the pair was off their nest and appeared to be tending their chick (#W4-12). The chick was no longer alive as of the June 15 nest check.

Fall 2012: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 were reported in Richland Co, IL on December 1, 2012 and spent most of the winter in Wabash and Edwards Counties, IL. They were there until March 26, 2013, when they left on their northward migration back to Wisconsin.

Spring 2013: Crane #14-08 was confirmed back at Necedah on March 28 and #24-08 confirmed on March 29. The pair was soon nesting. This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, but they abandoned their nest shortly after that. Luckily, one of their eggs rescued by biologists hatched to become chick #9-13 for the ultralight led Class of 2013!

Fall 2013: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 were reported in Madison County, Alabama at the end of December and remained at least through mid January. ICF tracker Eva observed: “The place looked really nice so I would doubt they would have moved,” so we’ll soon see if this is their winter territory. 

Spring 2014: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 completed migration to Necedah NWR on March 31. The pair nested and hatched #W6-14 and #W7-14 in May! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, however, as neither parents nor chicks could be found, although a radio signal was being detected.

Fall 2014: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 left the Necedah area on fall migration between Nov. 6 and 9. They wintered in Madison County, Alabama.

Spring 2015: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 completed migration to Necedah NWR and were seen May 22 on a nest. Those eggs were removed by experts for the forced re-nesting program but they nested a second time and hatched chick #W12-15, shown here on June 8, but the chick did not survive the month.

14-08 and 24-08 with newly hatched chick W12-15. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 migrated south for the winter.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #14-08 and #24-08 were observed back in the Necedah area on the March 30 aerial survey flight. They were observed nesting on a May 19 survey flight and were still nesting on June 17 but the nest failed. No chicks for them this summer.

Fall 2016: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 migrated south and were observed Nov. 1, 2016 in Richland County, Illinois, together with #W10-15 (bandless) and PR #24-13. By December #14-08 was at his wintering site in Morgan County, Alabama. (Photo below)

Photo: Peter Weber

Spring 2017: Pair #14-08 and #24-08 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Adams County and were nesting by early April. The pair re-nested in Juneau County and were seen incubating on May 12 by Wisconsin DNR pilot Beverly Paulan.

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Crane #18-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 31, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/white 

Personality and Characteristics: Nicknamed “Mouse” for her tendency to scurry about. Never seems to walk at a steady pace, but instead skitters to and fro like a mouse. Among the chicks that will form Cohort Two, #18-08 was paired up with #16-08 to begin trike training. Bev calls #18-08 the class go-getter.

 

Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 9 in cohort 2, the middle group in age in the Class of 2008. She was already flying by Aug. 12, and Bev said she became a little better behaved. “Once out of the pen, she would almost always ‘do a runner’ into the marsh. At the last training session though, instead of running into the marsh, she just flew there right over the swamp monster’s head.” On Aug. 15 pilot Richard told a good one: “At the end of the training session the chicks gathered around the trike for treats. The puppet was doling out grapes and a grape bounced off #18-08’s head. She didn’t seem to mind and promptly ate it, glad for the well-deserved attention.” But she was still, as Bev said, “our little swamp lover.” She weighed 5.2 kg at the pre-migration health check.

July in Wisconsin. Photo: Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #18-08 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008. Read more about #18-08 below.

October 28, Day 12: The “little swamp-lover” is proving to be a great migrator, flying strongly and following willingly each time they take off.

November 6, Day 21: Heather reports, #18-08 pecked out the right eye of my puppet last night at roost check. She’s still living up to her old nickname “Mouse,” as she’ll grab a piece of pumpkin and scurry off with it to ensure nobody else has a chance to take it from her.”

Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #18-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #3-08, #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, #19-08, #24-08 and #27-08! 


Winter at the Chass Pen: She had her adult voice by February!

2009 First Unaided Spring Migration: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, and #19-08 left Florida on March 24 — the first four to leave Florida for Wisconsin on their first unaided migration! On March 31 The PTT on #18-08 indicated she was in Peoria County, IL. Tracking this group, Eva got to that location April 1 but found that crane #19-08 has separated from the others. The three continued migrating April 1 and #4-08, #14-08 and #18-08 were reported April 7 in McHenry County, Illinois. The three reached Necedah NWR on April 16! They stayed in the area or nearby Dodge County all summer. By late October/early November #18-08, #4-08, and #14-08 joined with #28-08, #24-08, #27-08, and #30-08 there to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Despite being chased away by the winter monitoring team, the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009! Photo: ICF

Fall 2009: (Also see above) Crane #18-08 was in the group of seven who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #18-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and #30-08, who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. They moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site. #18-08’s nonfunctional PTT was replaced on March 7.

Spring 2010: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 remained on Chassahowitzka NWR until they began migration on March 10. They were reported in Barbour County, Alabama, on March 13. PTT readings were later received for #18-08 nearby in Stewart County, Georgia, on the nights of March 18-20. The three were detected on southern Necedah NWR or just south of the refuge on April 1!Female #18-08 paired with male #9-05 after return from spring migration, but she was killed by a predator a few weeks later. Her carcass was found May 3 among young maple trees adjacent to a meadow on Necedah NWR. She was last confirmed alive on April 21. Examination of telemetry data indicated that death had probably occurred by April 25. The carcass will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, for necropsy.

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Crane #19-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 31, 2008
Legbands: Left: green/white/green Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Handlers said he was “an obnoxious little guy” from the start. He is full of energy. He is a good follower during training. For some reason, he likes to annoy #16-08. He tried to be a top bird from the beginning, and he’s been a little punk because of it.

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 9 in cohort 2, the middle group in age in the Class of 2008. Now in flight school, he has a tendency to wander off into the marsh during training! Like the other cohort 2 birds, he was able to take off and fly by August 15. He weighed 5.9 kg at his pre-migration health check and is making good flying progress.

July in Wisconsin. Photo: Operation Migration

He continues to “stir up the pot” with the younger birds, trying to show them he’s better than they are. They are learning to walk away from a fight, so he must be teaching them something! 

First Migration South: Chick #19-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #19-08 below.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #19-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

Photo: Joe Duff, Operation Migration

Nov. 26, Day 41: He wasn’t very willing to fly today and tried to turn back to the pen upon takeoff. Swamp Monster was called into action. He and #12-08 and #30-08 were mavericks the whole distance to Cumberland County, Illinois.

Dec. 8, Day 53: This is #19-08 and #29-08 in a stand-off during the exercise session on this no-fly day.

Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

Dec. 12, Day 57: He dropped out about 3 miles after take-off and was crated and driven to the next stop (about 55 miles) for the first time during this migration.

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #19-08, #24-08, #4-08, #3-08, #18-08, #14-08 and #27-08! 

Winter at the Chass Pen: Sara reported Feb. 25 that #19-08’s head just has the tiniest bit of red at this time, and his voice has not yet changed to the adult voice.

Do you see his bands? His code is G/W/G on the left leg.

Eva calls #19-08 “a goof. During multiple roost checks, I have observed him dancing around the food shelter, or along the shoreline—throwing pieces of grass or feathers in the air in an effort to get somebody to play.”

2009 First Unaided Spring Migration: Cranes #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, and #19-08 left Florida on March 24 — the first four to leave Florida for Wisconsin on their first unaided migration! He was last detected continuing migration from Etowah County, Alabama, on March 26. He was no longer with the other members of his migrating group when Eva tracked them to Peoria County, IL. He next showed up April 21 at Necedah NWR! Migration complete!

The wandering #19-08 was next reported April 26 in southeastern North Dakota! It was reported and confirmed by USFWS personnel, who saw a single radio-tagged whooper and described the band colors of #19-08.

More about his South Dakota visit:

An April 26 sighting report on a Whooping crane in North Dakota included the evidence of green-white-green bands on one leg, and a conventional radio transmitter mounted on red and white bands on the other leg. Tom Stehn replied to the observers with this message:

“We think it is male bird #19 hatched in 2008 at Patuxent WRC, and later transported to Necedah NWR in central Wisconsin in summer as part of the group that followed the ultralight aircraft from Wisconsin to Florida last fall, where it wintered at St. Mark’s NWR.

“Based on the tracking this spring, it migrated correctly back to the core reintroduction area in central Wisconsin where it was last seen April 23rd. It then apparently went into its spring wandering phase that sometime occurs, especially with 1-yr-olds. Biologist Richard Urbanek doubts that it will stay in one place, at least not currently. It knows where Wisconsin is and will return there at an unknown time.”

The young wanderer #19-08 was next in Minnesota, very near #7-07 and DAR #39-07, who were back there after spending much of last summer and fall in MN, but he did return to Wisconsin.

Fall 2009: The remains of male #19-08 were found in an upland field south of Necedah NWR, Juneau County, on September 30. Death occurred between September 25 and September 28, 2009. Many coyote tracks were present in the area.

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Crane #24-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 8, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/green/red Right: red/white 

Personality and Characteristics: Cohort 3 (the youngest birds) has a few meanies — and #24-08 is one of them.

However, these youngest meanies have been associating with other chicks with a little less hatred than the bullies in Cohort 1. She is a good follower but makes a beeline to peck at any other chicks that she sees.

We have walked #24-08 with #20-08 and #26-08. One day Bev and Barb tried socializing #24-08 with #26-08 for #24-08’s first interaction with another chick in a while. “Overall it went well,” said Barb. “When we have an aggressive chick we just try to keep them moving to avoid any stops that may allow for time for meanness. Bev and I were huffing and puffing during and after the walk. Bev said she thought her head would explode we were moving so quickly, but it worked.

#24-08 Preens. Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent

Because chick #24-08 kept being too aggressive, she was given her own pen. Barb said, “That’s what you get for being a mean little chick here at Patuxent: the luxury of having your own big pen, your own shed and your own food dish and water. The chicks are probably wondering why they should bother being a sweet little bird when they can have everything to themselves.

“Chick #24-08 is one of the only two girls in the last group probably tries the hardest to be the most dominant bird. She will stand up very tall when #29-08 is near and give him the stink eye. He really doesn’t want to fight, but she provokes him. She normally ends up turning and walking away.”

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. The team calls her the waterbug because she prefers the wet pen to the dry pen, and likes spear fishing more than pecking crane chow at the feeder. On Aug. 21 chick #24-08 was able to experience a short flight in ground effect and on Aug. 24 she became the first bird in cohort 3 to fledge! 

She weighed 4.4 kg at her pre-migration health check. Her new leg bands bothered her at first. On Sep. 7 the pilots agreed, #24-08 has been our best flier of the group and today she hardly even bothered to fly in ground effect. She got over it, though. After her cohort joined with Cohort 2 and the dominance order changed, she kept trying to show all the others that she was a higher status bird. Despite all her “monster” behavior at Patuxent, Brooke said, “She’s a beautiful bird now.” 
 

#24-08 at Necedah in August. Photo: Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #24-08 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008.

Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #24-08 below.

November 16, Day 31: #24-08 drinks from a puddle on this no-fly day. Click on the photo and you can see her temporary legband.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #24-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

November 27, Day 42: She flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe’s wing!

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #24-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. She was crated and driven for the first time during this migration.

January 23, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #24-08, #19-08, #4-08, #3-08, #18-08, #14-08 and #27-08! 

Winter at the Chass Pen: She had her adult voice by mid February, but no red patch yet.

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: #24-08 (who is wearing a PTT) and #3-08 and #27-08, the three birds that stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th, left the Chassahowitzka pensite the morning of April 4!

Richard Urbanek tracked them to a location about 45 miles almost due east of the town of St. Marks, Florida. On April 4, cranes #3-08, #24-08, and #27-08 arrived in Thomas County, GA and resumed migration on April 6 despite a headwind. As of April 15, they were still in Georgia (Mitchell County), presumably together, on flooded, wet land (good!). They resumed migration to Marshall County, Alabama, on April 17 and then to Christian County, Kentucky, on 18 April.

They continued migration to Webster County, Kentucky, on April 21; to Effingham County, Illinois, on April 22; Henry County, Illinois, on April 23 and completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on April 24!

She spent much of the summer with buddies #27-08, #28-08, and #30-08, as well as with #5-08 and #12-08 in nearby Dodge County, WI. The group of four (#24-08, #27-08, #28-08, #30-08) left that location and on September 18 were reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County. By late October/early November they had been joined by #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #24-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all five surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and one 2008 bird who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. They moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site. #24-08’s nonfunctional PTT was replaced on March 7 but it failed and was removed on March 19. The color code was changed to free the PTT color code for future use.

Spring 2010: Departed the Chass pen area on April 5 with the “Chass 9” chicks and sub-adults #27-08 and #30-08. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6 p.m. Now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, the group continued migration and roosted the night of April 6 in Jackson County, Alabama. This was just 10 miles from the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather conditions. The group of 11 continued migration to Porter County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here they split into a group of eight (#24-08, #27-08 and #30-08, #1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #24-09 and #29-09) and a group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09). Both groups continued the next day (April 10), when the group of eight completed migration!

Fall 2010: Female #24-08 (with male #14-08) remained on Horicon NWR, Dodge County, through at least November 10. Only #14-08 was detected on the evening of November 25 but he was gone by December 1. Female #24-08 arrived at Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, Tennessee, between 6 and 10 December and left this location on December 14. Her signal was next picked up by the Homosassa Springs datalogger on December 21. She was reported on Dec. 27 with cranes #14-08 and #27-08 in Citrus County, Florida, where they remained.

Spring 2011: Cranes #24-08 and #14-08 began migration from Citrus County, Florida, between February 20 and 23. They were at a Morgan County, AL stopover March 11 at least through March 14. They were detected on Necedah NWR on April 6! The pair was seen building a nest, but without results.

Fall 2011: Cranes #24-08 and #14-08 were found in Wabash County, IL during a tracking aerial search on December 3. They were in in Edwards County by Dec. 22 and observed there again on Dec. 28 but were not there when on January 6.

Spring 2012: Cranes #24-08 and #14-08 arrived March 21 at Necedah NWR, migration complete.They were found with a nest on April 6 and then later abandoned it. They re-nested and one egg was seen April 29. By May 10 they were acting like they had a chick (#W4-12). When observed again on May 21 the pair was off their nest and appeared to be tending their chick (#W4-12). The chick was no longer alive as of the June 15 nest check.

Fall 2012: She was captured Nov.1 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her original band colors remain the same. Pair #24-08 and #14-08 were reported in Richland Co., IL on December 1, 2012 and spent most of the winter in Wabash and Edwards Counties, IL. They were there until March 26, 2013, when they left on their northward migration back to Wisconsin.

Spring 2013: Crane #24-08 was confirmed back at Necedah on March 29 and mate #14-08) on March 28. The pair was soon nesting. This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, but they abandoned their nest shortly after that. Luckily, one of their eggs rescued by biologists hatched to become chick #9-13 for the ultralight led Class of 2013!

Fall 2013: Female #24-08 and her mate #14-08 were reported in Madison County, Alabama at the end of December and remained at least through mid January. ICF tracker Eva observed: “The place looked really nice so I would doubt they would have moved,” so we’ll soon see if this is their winter territory.

Spring 2014: Mates #24-08 and 14-08 completed spring migration to Necedah NWR on March 31. The pair nested and hatched #W6-14 and #W7-14 in May! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, however, as neither parents nor chicks could be found, although a radio signal was being detected.

Fall 2014: Pair #24-08 and #14-08 left the Necedah area on fall migration between Nov. 6 and 9. They wintered in Madison County, Alabama.

Spring 2015: Pair #24-08 and #14-08 completed migration to Necedah NWR and were seen May 22 on a nest. Those eggs were removed by experts for the forced re-nesting program but they nested a second time and hatched chick #W12-15, shown here on June 8, but the chick did not survive the month.

Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: Pair #24-08 and #14-08 migrated south for the winter.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #14-08 and #24-08 were observed back in the Necedah area on the March 30 aerial survey flight. They were observed nesting on a May 19 survey flight. They were still nesting on the June 17 survey flight but the nest failed. No chicks for them this summer.

Fall 2016: 

Pair #24-08 and #14-08 migrated south and were observed Nov. 1, 2016 in Richland County, Illinois, together with #W10-15 (bandless) and PR 24-13. They were in Morgan Co, Alabama in December. Photo: Peter Weber

Spring 2017: Pair #24-08 and #14-08 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Adams County and were nesting by early April. The pair re-nested in Juneau County and were seen incubating on May 12 by Wisconsin DNR pilot Beverly Paulan.

Wild Whooping crane chick #W7-17 hatched and as of July 14 at ~44 days of age was still on the landscape. Photo: Bev Paulan

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Crane #26-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 10, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: red/white  

Personality and Characteristics: Barb says #26-08 is “a real cutie— so tall and slender and looks like a little super model. He has such big eyes that sometimes he looks like a little bug. This chick has been walking with #20-08 and they get along great. Because of their size and good nature, these two sweet chicks also go walk with bullies #27-08 and also #24-08 (on separate walks) to help socialize them. Barb says, “#26-08 is our little dancer in the group. At any given moment he will just start jumping and flapping and dancing around. We all thought from his personality that he would be a girl, but he is indeed a little boy. He will be a good dancer in his courtship efforts in years to come!” Barb calls him one of the good little chicks.

#26-08 preens. Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. On Aug. 4, pilot Brooke said, “He spreads his wings and flaps madly at the onset of the slightest breeze, eager for the day when he’ll soar the skies.” On Aug. 17 #26-08 got stung by a bee. He had swelling around his left eye and was separated from the others so he could receive medicated water to help the swelling go down. He weighed 4.7 kg at his pre-migration health check.

#26-08 goes into the wet pen. Photo: Operation Migration

The youngest chicks had been flying 7 minutes or more by mid September. On September 26 the combined cohorts (youngest and middle birds) flew together for the first time, and #26-08 dropped out. Bev decided to walk #26-08 back to the pen site instead of crating and risking injury to him. Bev said, “The spot where he had dropped out was a straight shot north, about two miles across a short grass sand prairie. He was already trying to walk back on his own, so I hopped in front to give him the illusion that he was following instead of leading. Two miles is a long way to walk, slowly, in full costume complete with rubber boots, but I tried to savor every moment. Chick #26-08 has always been one of my favorites. Listen to Bev Paulan describe #26-08:

He always kept me laughing with his antics when he was little. This morning, however, he was content just to walk by my side, occasionally pecking at a seed head or ducking when a butterfly flitted by. He flew the last hundred feet or so to the pen.”

First Migration South: Chick #26-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #26-08 below.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #26-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

November 27, Day 42: He flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe’s wing!

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The others may have been with her, but #13-03 then left the group at some point. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Soon after that sighting, #26-08 was apparently injured and unable to walk. He was found and transported to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne for examination.

Crane #26-08 began migration from St. Marks NWR in Florida on March 30, 2009 with his six St. Marks flock mates. On April 6 he was discovered injured in a field northeast of Bloomington, Ilinois. Resscuers took him to the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic in Urbana for help. The Clinic’s medical Director, Dr. Julia Whittington, found that the leg was broken into at least 10 pieces. These photos show the excellent care he received from Dr. Whittington and medical students.

He had multiple, severe leg fractures. How he became injured is unknown but it is suspected he was hit by a snowplow. Sadly, #26-08 did not survive until surgeons could try to fix his leg, and died on April 8.

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Crane #27-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 11, 2008
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Cohort 3 (the youngest birds) has a few meanies and #27-08 is one of them. He is very aggressive to the puppet and to the other chicks!

On July 14 Barb said, #27-08 has been included in walking with the GOOD birds in this group (#20-08, #26-08, #28-08 and #30-08) and being socialized with them. But he can be a little butt-biter when he gets a chance.

The other chicks have learned that he is a meanie. They seem to know to steer clear of his path.  He was originally in his own pen but later was blended into the group with #20-08, #26-08, #28-08 and #30-08. On July 26, Barb reported that #27-08 was still a little “butt-biter,” pecking at the butts of the other chicks in his group when they walked past him.

Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

She said, “Even though #28-08 has become the dominant bird, #27-08 hasn’t lost hope. He stands up so tall and just won’t back down, which causes #29-08, the most dominant in the group, to fight.” He is also a puppet hater!

#27-08 with #28-08. Photo: Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. He enjoys both the wet and dry pens equally. He also tries an occasional “face off” with the “King”, #29-08. According to pilot Brooke, those face offs end with #27-08 backing away and slinking off in embarrassed humility. On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 4.8 kg.

On Sep. 26 the combined cohorts 2 and 3 flew together for the first time. The weather had kept them grounded for five days. Chick #27-08 dropped out (so did #26-08) and returned to the pen on his own.

During training it seemed he was much more interested in poking in the mud for bugs and worms instead of following the trikes. He still just loves to poke his long beak into the mud! Whenever the costumes go inside the pen to change the birds’ water or feed, they dump any water left in the buckets into their shallow pans that the birds like to step into. Most of the water splashes outside onto the ground and the first one to start poking into the new mud is #27-08!

October 16, the day before migration began, the team flew the birds to a different part of the refuge. 

They had set up the travel pen and wanted the birds to spend the night in their “new” pen to help them get used to it.

Just #27-08, flying alone with Joe’s plane, was reluctant to land in the unfamiliar travel pen. But he finally did! Now the birds are ready for migration. 

First Migration South: Chick #27-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #27-08 below:

Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, #27-07 dropped out and landed in a marsh. Brooke was circling in search of him when #27-08 took to the air and followed Brooke all the way to the first stopover. Hooray for #27-08! (He continued to like to fly by himself with one of the ultralights.)

November 5, Day 20: Heather took this photo of #27-08 stretching his wings in the pen at the evening roost check Nov. 5.

November 10, Day 25: Normally cranes fly with long legs extended straight out behind them. It was so cold on Day 25 that the birds tucked their legs up into their feathers to keep them warm. Here’s #27-08 with legs tucked. 

November 21, Day 36: Not only does #27-08 prefer to fly with his own trike, but it seems that wind turbines freak him out. Brooke had 13 birds with him and flew over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. Richard had the “prince” #27-08 with him at 2,500 feet. As soon as the bird saw the wind turbines he did a 180-degree turn. Richard had to turn and collect him to try again.The bird turned back again! He would NOT cross over the wind turbines! Richard ended up having to change course to go around the turbines. In all, he was 22 miles behind the rest of the cranes and planes…but he made it to the next stop just fine!

November 27, Day 42: He did it again. Crane #27-08 flew well with the other birds until near the end of today’s 108-mile flight into Kentucky. Then he peeled off and flew alone with Richard the last 30 minutes of flying. Smart bird!

December 12, Day 57: This time he refused to come out of the pen for the take-off! It took both Heather and Bev in the pen to shoo him out so he’d take off. By then he had Joe’s plane all to himself. (Was that his plan all along?)

January 13, Day 78: As usual #27-08 lagged behind when the pen gates were thrown open for today’s flight. But pilot Brooke felt lucky at take-off and said, “#27-08 must have felt it also, because after leaving the pen late he made a bee-line for us and joined up.” He stayed with Brooke and all the others the entire flight!

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the “Chass 7” of #3-08, #4-08, #14-08, #18-08, #18-08, #24-08 and #27-08! 

Winter at the Chass Pen: After health checks and banding were done, #27-08 was the only relaxed bird. The rest of the birds wanted nothing to do with the costume after being put through the capture and exam! At mid February his voice had not yet changed and he did not yet have the red patch on his head.

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: #27-08, #3-08 and #24-08 (who is wearing a PTT), stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th. They left the Chassahowitzka pensite the morning of April 4! Richard Urbanek tracked them to a location about 45 miles almost due east of the town of St. Marks, Florida. On April 4, cranes #3-08, #24-08, and #27-08 arrived in Thomas County, GA and resumed migration on April 6 despite a headwind. As of April 15, they were still in Georgia (Mitchell County), presumably together, on flooded, wet land (good!).

They resumed migration to Marshall County, Alabama, on April 17 and then to Christian County, Kentucky, the next day. They continued migration to Webster County, Kentucky, on April 21; to Effingham County, Illinois, on April 22; Henry County, Illinois, on April 23 and completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on April 24!

Crane #27-08 spent much of the summer with #24-08, #28-08, and #30-08, as well as with #5-08 and #12-08 in nearby Dodge County, WI. The group of four (#27-08, #24-08, #28-08, #30-08) left that location and on September 18 were reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County. By late October/early November they had been joined by #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Fall 2009: Crane #27-08 was in the group of seven (see just above) who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #25-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #27-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and one 2008 bird who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. Despite being chased away by the winter monitoring team, the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009! They finally moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site.

Spring 2010: Departed the Chass pen area on April 5 with the “Chass 9” chicks and sub-adults #24-08 and #30-08. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6 p.m. On April 6 crane #7-09 took off on her own in the early morning and the group continued migration and roosted the night of April 6 in Jackson County, Alabama. This was just 10 miles from the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather conditions. The group of 11 continued migration to Porter County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here they split into a group of eight (#24-08, #27-08 and #30-08, #1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #24-09 and #29-09) and a group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09). Both groups continued the next day (April 10), when the group of eight completed migration to Necedah NWR! Crane #28-08 remained mainly in the Mill Bluff area where he associated mainly with female #42-09 (DAR). They were often joined by a number of cranes.

Fall 2010: Crane #27-08 began migration with #29-08 on Nov. 23. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, on that evening and remained in that area until continuing migration on November 27. Reported December 27 with #29-08, #14-08 and #24-08 in, Citrus County, Florida, where they remained until February.

Spring 2011: Male #27-08 left Citrus County when his winter buddies began migration and arrived at the Chassahowitzka NWR pensite on Feb. 21. He wasn’t welcome there because this site is for the Class of 2010 youngsters. But he stayed anyway! The photos below show #27-08 trying to sneak past the costume to get to the feeders. He’s in the feeding shelter but the feeders were then hung out of reach because at first he wouldn’t let the chicks eat out of them! His aggressive behavior eventually eased up a little.

#27-08 wants the free food at the Chass pen. Photos: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF


On March 18, three males from the Class of 2009 dropped in and stayed until March 20. They didn’t cause any problems with the chicks because when they tried to come into the pen, #27-08 and the chicks chased them back out. The feeders were lowered as migration time came near, and #27-08 sometimes even let the chicks eat out of the same feeder as he did.

He began migration from the Chass pen site on April 1 and was heard flying towards Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on April 6! Later he was seen building a nest with #8-09, but without results.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #8-09 to Knox County, Indiana.

January 2012: Male crane #27-08 was shot and killed in early January in Knox County, Indiana. In May 2012 it was announced that charges are pending against Jason R. McCarter, 21, of Wheatland, and John C. Burke, 23, of Monroe City, IL. According to a case filed with the prosecutor, ICO Joe Haywood received information in mid-January that a Whooping crane had been spotlighted at night an shot and killed with a high-powered rifle.

An investigation that identified the suspects took place by multiple law enforcement agencies, wildlife biologists and private individuals. John Burke and Jason McCarter of Knox County pleaded guilty and were sentenced on November 21, 2012. Their sentence included three years probation and a donation of $5000 to the International Crane Foundation.

At the time of his 2012 death, male crane #27-08 was the third confirmed shooting death of a Whooping crane in Indiana.

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Crane #28-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 12, 2008
Legbands: Left: green/red/green Right: red/white 

Personality and Characteristics: He was a good follower but then picked up the bad habit of mucking about for bugs and worms — which was probably more fun! Still, he is one of the GOOD birds. Even though #28-08 likes to do the “I’m bigger than you” game with the other birds in the youngest group, he causes no real problems. Barb says they see just the normal hierarchical interactions that normally occur in a group. As they prepared to leave for Wisconsin, he was not ready to give up challenging #29-08 to be the dominant bird in this group and he could still be “pecky.”

Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. He sometimes stands up to #29-08, the “king” in this group, but #28-08 always backs down and slinks away from this more dominant bird. He weighed 4.7 kg at his pre-migration health check.

#28-08 at Necedah in August. Photo: Operation Migration

Heather calls him part of the “Zoo Posse” because the egg he hatched from comes from the Calgary Zoo (along with #27-08, #29-08 & #30-08) and they’re all nearly the same age. 

First Migration South: Chick #28-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. He proved to be a strong flier!

Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #28-08 below:

Oct. 29, Day 13: Young male #28-08 was very eager to fly this morning! He squealed very loudly, wanting to be let out of the travel enclosure as he heard the aircraft approach. When Bev and Heather opened the two large gates to release the birds, #28-08 was the first one out! Here he finds the “sweet spot” right next to the wing, where he can glide on air currents off the trike’s wing rather than flap his own wings! (With him is #14-08.)


November 21, Day 36: Crane #28-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #28-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the second (Day 57) time during this migration.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Winter Pen at St. Marks: #28-08 is about to pluck a blue crab out of the water! Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane #26-08 somehow became injured and was rescued by an un-costumed person and taken for medical care, while #28-08 and the other four cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7.

April 15 in Illinois! Photo: Operation Migration

On April 16, crane #28-08 and his remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR—migration complete!

Crane #28-08 spent much of the summer with buddies #24-08, #27-08, and #30-08, as well as with #5-08 and #12-08 in nearby Dodge County, WI. He (with #24-08, #27-08, and #30-08) left that location and on September 18 the four were reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County. By late October/early November they had been joined by #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Fall 2009: Crane #28-08 was in the group of seven (see just above) that moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Hiwassee is a great place for cranes and a popular stop over and wintering area for thousands of Sandhills and a number of our Whooping Cranes, but trackers were surprised when #28-08 was there. Why? He was led south on the new, more westerly ultralight route the previous fall, so he had never been to Hiwassee before. Also he was there by himself, having separated from the other 6 birds he’d been with for more than 2 months. ICF’s Sara said, “We were glad to know where he was, but a bit puzzled about how and why he got there and also curious where the remaining 6 birds were.” (Safe and sound, they turned up on January 8 at Chassahowitzka NWR. The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from last year and one bird from St. Marks NWR.) Now the question is: Will #28-08 stay at Hiwassee in Tennessee for the winter, or will he continue on to Florida? How do YOU think he found his way there?

Spring 2010: Tracker Eva heard the signal of #28-08 on April 11 at Necedah NWR, migration complete.

Fall 2010: Migrated south to Hiwassee SWA in Meigs County, TN.

Spring 2011: He migrated from Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on March 8 and was back at the Necedah NWR area by March 21. By April 2 he had moved to nearby Horicon NWR in Dodge County with with #19-10 DAR, #25-10 DAR and #27-10 DAR.

Fall 2011: Crane #28-08 wintered in North Carolina with #10-05.

Spring 2012: After wintering in North Carolina, crane #28-08 and #5-10 were located by tracker Eva in Bartholomew County, Indiana on Feb. 29. The pair completed migration back to Necedah NWR on March 11. They were seen sitting on a nest platform at Necedah NWR on April 11 but tracker Eva said: “Since #5-10 is only two years old, we probably won’t call this an official nest unless we see more evidence of consistent incubation, or eggs in the nest.”

On May 3, Eva said the pair apparently have a nest in Marathon County. “They were sitting during both checks on May 1 and both checks on May 2, so we are going to go ahead and assume that they have an egg.” They were still incubating as of May 29. Trackers collected their single infertile egg on June 4 after the pair incubated it past full term and it didn’t hatch.

Fall 2012: Wintered in Meigs County, TN

Spring 2013: Crane #28-08 and #5-10 completed migration by April 2. By late April or early May they were reported nesting. This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, possibly due to an outbreak of black flies. On May 21, they hatched the first wild-hatched chick (#W1-13) of this season!

By May 23, the second chick (#W2-13) had hatched!

Eva, ICF tracker, last saw both chicks on May 26, so only one of the twins (#W1-13, below, May 29) survived its first weeks. It is very rare for twins to survive in the wild, especially to very new and inexperienced parents. The chick was observed with parents when it was two weeks of age, and again when it was just days shy of 1 month of age. Unfortunately, the chick (#W1-13) was lost between the afternoon of 26 June and the afternoon of 2 July at 36-42 days of age.

Fall 2013: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee with many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2014: Cranes #5-10/#28-08 and #37-07 began migration together 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 the 22nd and apparently stayed until March 21, when a signal for #5-10 was detected heading north. The pair was photographed on their Marathon County (WI) territory in April. The pair (#5-10 and #28-08) built a nest and hatched a chick, which was observed with them on the May 29 aerial survey flight.

Fall 2014: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee to join many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2015: #28-08 and female #5-10 returned to the Necedah area and hatched twin chicks around May 16. By June 8, just one chick, shown below, survived, and by June 23 had died.

Photo: Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2016: Male #28-08 and mate #5-10 had returned to their Necedah area territory by the end of March. No chicks for them this summer.

Fall 2016: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Marathon County and were nesting by early April! Their chick, #W4-17, was found by pilot Bev Paulan on a May 12 flight (photo below) and was still doing well at age 17 days when seen on Bev’s May 25 aerial survey flight but had disappeared by her June 15 flight. Sadly, this pair will fledge no chick this summer.

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Crane #29-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 13, 2008
Legbands: Left: green/white/red Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Barb says #29-08 and #30-08 (the two youngest in the entire Class of 2008) are little buddies. They walk together and get trained together. He was the best follower in his group of six chicks. But it didn’t last! On July 15 Barb wrote, “Our little #29-08, who used to be fine with other birds, has turned into a cranky little bird too.”

Because chick #29-08 kept being too aggressive, he was given his own pen. Barb said, “Number 29-08 is our most dominant chick. Although he himself does not start the trouble. It is those other three hopefuls, #27-08, #28-08 and #24-08, who keep challenging his dominance and make him cranky and provoke his anger. If they would just let it go and let him be the top dog (bird) things could be so easy for them.” He was paired with #30-08 for training and they get along great, with #29-08 the best follower of the group.

Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Whooping crane 29-08 with the plastic brood model. Supporters affectionately refer to the decoy as ‘dummy mummy.’

Notes from “flight school in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. Pilot Brooke says Chick #29-08 is the “King” who refuses to be voted off the island and reigns supreme over his bird world. He is so aggressive that the team was too worried to leave him with the other chicks unless an adult was present.

On Aug. 3 after training, they took a chance and finally left #29-08, unattended by a costumed human, with the rest of the cohort all day and all night. “He earned our trust and justified our faith in him by being a model crane,” reported Brooke. Will it last?

On Aug. 7 when the trike came to get the chicks for training, #29-08 was lying down resting in the pen. The other five chicks charged out of the gate. While the other chicks followed the trike to the end of the runway, Bev coaxed #29-08 out of the pen. He finally came down to the end of the runway and joined the group as they continued training.

During training on August 27, “king” #29-08 tried to take on adults #13-03 and #18-03 when they showed up on the runway. He quickly found out that birds a foot taller are indeed tougher! They flattened him on the runway. As quick as he was down, he was back up for another round. Bev (in costume) went running out of the pen to defend her “baby.” Brooke tried to chase off one of the adults with the trike, and Bev ran after the other one. Meanwhile, #29-08 seemed to feel bummed out by the whole scene. Bev said, “I could have sworn he was pouting.” But it didn’t last long. Training continued with #29-08 soon running and flapping enthusiastically, as if nothing had happened! He weighed 5.0 kg at his pre-migration health check.

#29-08 and the others were put inside their travel pen the night before migration began. Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #29-08 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #29-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

November 27, Day 42: He flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe’s wing!

Dec. 8, Day 53: This is #29-08 and #19-08 in a stand-off during the exercise session on this no-fly day.

Photo: Heather Ray, Operation Migration

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #29-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the second (Day 57) time during this migration.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes  #5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Winter Pen at St. Marks: #29-08’s adult markings were quickly filling in. Notice his red skin patch emerging on his head? His black “moustache” is actually very tiny black feathers, which will continue to grow in until completely black. He is one of the youngest members of his class.

Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #13-08 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. Number 13-08 was the bird in this group that could be tracked remotely.

While #13-08 soon left the group, the other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane #26-08 somehow became injured and was rescued by an un-costumed person and taken for medical care, while the other five cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7.

On April 16, crane #29-08 and his 4 remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR. Migration complete!

Fall 2009: Male #29-08 separated from his buddy #19-08 and left their area on Necedah NWR around September 25, and sometime in the next three days #19-08 was killed. Coyote tracks were found in the area. Crane #29-08 began migration November 15, the same day as 9 other Whooping cranes left the refuge. Amazingly, #29-08 landed at the same Winnebago County, Illinois location as two other pairs of whoopers, each of whom had left from different locations! By Dec. 16 #29-08 had arrived in Florida with #12-07. The two were seen together in Alachua County, Florida.

Crane #29-08 remained there with the Sandhill cranes.

Spring 2010: Male #29-08 began migration from Florida between March 5 and March 13. He and male #13-07 were reported together in Jackson County, Indiana, on March 15-17. His signal was heard at Necedah by Eva on April 11.

Fall 2010: On Nov. 23 he began migration with #27-08. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, on that evening and remained in that area until continuing migration on November 27. They were reported in Santa Rosa County, Florida on December 16 through at least Dec. 31.

Spring 2011: Crane #29-08 was seen with four cranes from the Class of 2009 southeast of Tallahassee on a survey flight March 11.

Fall 2011: Migrated and wintered in Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Crane #29-08 (with #9-08) was reported back on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete!

Fall 2012: No news.

Spring 2013: Crane #29-08 (with #W3-10) completed migration by or on April 3. Soon another male, #4-08 tried to steal away female #W3-10. Tracker Eva didn’t think #4-08 and #W3-10 would stay together, but is watching to see.

Fall 2013: Male #29-08 and mate #W3-10 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, and later moved to knox County, IN, where they were last reported on February 2. Here they are in Daviess County, IN on Feb. 12, 2014.

photographed by ICF tracker Eva on her aerial tracking flight.

Spring 2013: It was assumed that #29-08 (whose transmitter doesn’t work) was with his mate #W3-10 when she was detected back at Necedah NWR on April 5.

Fall 2014: By November 23 pair #29-08 and #W3-10 had migrated south to Knox County, Indiana, where they joined cranes #7-12, #3-11, #24-13 and #38-09 DAR.

Spring 2015: Male #29-08 and his mate #W3-10 successfully migrated back to Wisconsin. They nested and the second nest hatched two chicks—the first second-generation wild-hatched Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock! (#W3-10 is herself wild-hatched.) It’s a milestone for the new flock, but unfortunately, this pair’s chicks did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Male #29-08 migrated to Knox County, Indiana, and spent the winter with #19-14.

Spring 2016: Lone male #29-08 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin and was associating in with an unidentified female.

Fall 2016: Male #29-08 was associating with female #6-15 in Juneau Co, WI as November began in an unusually mild autumn. They migrated to Greene County, Indiana by December.

Spring 2017: Number 29-08 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, where he remains. For a short time he was with #6-15 near New Lisbon, WI and the team suspected they had a nest. Bev Paulan checked on them and said “29-08 was aggressively chasing a SACR from the marsh. There is a large mound but no evidence of an egg.” Since that time #29-08 has been spending time alone at Necedah Refuge.

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Crane #30-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 15, 2008
Legbands: Left: white/green/red Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: Chick #30-08 was the last of the class to hatch. Barb says that #30-08 and #29-08 (the two youngest in the Class of 2008) are little buddies. They walk together and get trained together.

On July 14 Barb said, “Number 30-08 is our little munchkin in the group. Seems so tiny. She is a real cutie and the group’s little peeper.” Every group has one, and in group three, she is it. She has become a little more independent lately, leaving the costumed technician to explore the large outdoor pen where the group is currently being socialized. We are happy that she has become a little less clingy.

At the end of July Barb noted, “She is so good about staying away from any trouble that may be brewing with the other birds. She always knows where every bird is and where she needs to be. She’s like a little navigator trying to stay in calm waters. When I look at her watching the other birds, I can see the little wheels turning in her head, planning her next move. It’s quite comical to think of how she just squeaks through all the commotion that may occur.”

Notes from “flight school” in Wisconsin: Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. Pilot Brooke complimented her by saying, “Little #30-08 is every inch the princess. She literally glides from one end of the wet pen to the other without dipping so much as a toenail in the water.”

She weighed 4.3 kg at her pre-migration health check.

She is always a sleepy bird. She would rather sleep than train with her group. Some days Bev has to wade out into the wet pen to poke #30-08 and wake her up when the ultralight comes to get her group of chicks for training.

First Migration South: Chick #30-08 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008.

Read day-to-day migration news

November 21, Day 36: Crane #30-08 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today’s lead pilot Brooke summed it up: “I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations.”

Nov. 26, Day 41: She wasn’t very willing to fly today and tried to turn back to the pen upon takeoff. She and #12-08 and #19-08 were mavericks the whole distance to Cumberland County, IL. The three uncooperative birds kept the pilots busy, while the other 11 flew well with Richard.

November 27, Day 42: Much better! She flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe’s wing!

December 29, Day 63: Guess who is in the lead? It’s #30-08, the youngest bird — FIRST on Richard’s wing!

Photo: Richard van Heuvelen, Operation Migration

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #30-08 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. She was crated and driven for the second (Day 57) time during this migration.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes (#5-08, #12-08, #13-08, #26-08, #28-08, #29-08 and #30-08)!

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading put the group (trackers hope they are still together) in Chambers County, Alabama.

While #13-08 soon left the group, the other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane #26-08 somehow became injured and was rescued by an un-costumed person and taken for medical care, while the other five cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7.

On April 16, crane #30-08 and her remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR. Migration complete! Crane #30-08 spent much of the summer with #24-08, #27-08, and #28-08, as well as with #5-08 and #12-08 in nearby Dodge County, WI. The group of four (#30-08, #24-08, #28-08, #27-08) left that location and on September 18 were reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County.

By late October/early November they had been joined by #4-08, #14-08, and #18-08 to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.

Fall 2009: Crane #30-08 was in the group of seven (see just above) who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #28-08 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #30-08 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and #30-08, who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. They finally moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site.

Spring 2010: Departed the Chass pen area on April 5 with the “Chass 9” chicks and sub-adults #24-08 and #27-08. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6 p.m.

On April 6 crane #7-09 took off on her own in the early morning and the group continued migration and roosted the night of April 6 in Jackson County, Alabama. This was just 10 miles from the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather conditions. The group of 11 continued migration to Porter County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here they split into a group of eight (#24-08, #27-08 and #30-08, #1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #24-09 and #29-09) and a group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09).

Both groups continued the next day (April 10), when the group of eight completed migration at Necedah NWR! She was with #28-08 until the end of April, when she apparently separated from him.

Fall 2010: Adult pair #30-08 and male #11-02 were found in Vermillion County, Indiana on Dec. 2. Hooray for the older crane pair to show young #19-10 DAR (Pepper Jack) the way! They were foraging in snowy cornfields. The adult pair had claimed the DAR introduction site at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge as their territory during the summer, so the young Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chick called Pepper Jack had followed them around and knew them well. Will these three continue together from Indiana to warmer grounds farther south? Yes! Still with young #19-10 (DAR), they were in Cherokee County, Alabama until at least January 26 but were gone when the location was checked on February 1, 2011. The three cranes were reported in Madison County, Alabama at least through February 14 along with cranes #37-09 (DAR), #25-10 (DAR) and #27-10 (DAR).

Spring 2011: Left Madison County, Alabama sometime between Feb. 18-22 in a group with #11-02 and #19-10 (DAR) and cranes #37-09 (DAR), #25-10 (DAR) and #27-10 (DAR). They were reported in Crawford County, IL on March 8-10 and Mar. 14, and completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 21. She and male #11-02 became a nesting pair and began incubating on April 16. Their nest failed May 12 and they did not re-nest.

Fall 2011: Female #30-08 migrated to her wintering location in Vermillion County, Indiana. She was found there with a severely injured leg on January 31. She was captured and taken to the Indianapolis Zoo, where she was euthanized. Her remains were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisc. for necropsy.

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Group Two – Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Whooping cranes.

Crane #31-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 5, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: green/white

Personality and Characteristics: The biggest and most mature bird in this year’s DAR group, and the most dominant. Used to be a bit selfish, but now interacts well with other birds close in age. As of August 22 he was very close to fledging, and practices by flapping wings often.

At the end of August he showed symptoms of respiratory illness and was put on medication.

He was released on Necedah NWR with #32-08 on October 18th. On October 22 these two were joined at the northern end of the refuge by flockmates DAR #35-08, 36-08 and 38-08. These five DAR chicks remained together on the northern end of the refuge. Signals from the birds’ radio transmitters sometimes indicate that adult Whooping cranes may be interacting with these chicks, but their remote location means no one usually sees this.

Fall weather in Wisconsin was unusually warm. On November 1, ICF Tracking Interns Eva Szyszkoski and Binga Elger checked on the five DAR cranes located on a remote part of the Necedah NWR. The area is quite difficult to get to. The two saw the DAR cranes along with adult whooping crane #1-04. Many sandhill cranes were also with the whooping cranes, but the sandhills flushed when the costumed biologists arrived. 

After the death of #35-08, DAR 31-08 was captured so he could get the PTT transmitter band and colors that #35-08 had been wearing.

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a DAR Crane: On November 17 DAR chick #31-08 began migration with experienced adult #16-02 and DAR flockmates #32-08, #36-08, and #38-08. That night the small group roosted near Ogle County, Illinois! They were still in northern Illinois as of Dec. 1. On Dec. 5 they arrived in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Spring 2009: #31-08 (and presumably #32-08, #36-08, #38-08 and #16-02) began their migration north from Lawrence County, TN on March 17th or 18th. PTT data indicated that he (and probably the others) stopped in Gallatin County, IL on the 18th and Rock County, IL on the 20th.The group likely reached home on the night of March 22, as all were confirmed at Necedah on March 23! He wandered during the summer and was seen in Columbia County, WI with DAR #36-08 and DAR #38-08 in September.

Fall 2009: Last seen in Wisconsin, together with DAR #36-08 and DAR #38-08, November 10. The three migrated together and data from DAR #31-08’s transmitter on the night of Nov. 11 showed them in Winnebago County, Illinois. They were less than 20 miles from where the Class of 2009 was camped. The three birds completed migration to their previous wintering location in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on November 27. Then they moved. According to PTT readings for #31-08, they returned to northwestern Alabama (Lauderdale County) by February 13, and then to Colbert County by the night of February 18.

Spring 2010: DAR #31-08 and DAR #38-08 moved from Colbert County, Alabama, back to Lawrence County, Tennessee, by the night of March 5. A PTT reading from DAR #31-08 confirmed he was back on the Wisconsin nesting grounds March 24 and trackers assumed DAR #38-08 was with him but she was seen later with another male. By April 20 Eva said, “Unfortunately he does not have a female to befriend and has moved back to Columbia County near where he spent last summer.”

Fall 2010: He was on Necedah NWR on September 25 but reported September 28 [with #12-07, #17-07 and #31-08 (DAR)] in Columbia County, Wisconsin. These three cranes were in Shelby County, Illinois on Dec. 6. Two other cranes (#16-04 and #4-09) had joined them, and they were detected together in flight through western Kentucky on that same day. Crane #31-08 (DAR) completed migration and wintered in Polk County, Florida with #12-07 and #17-07.

Spring 2011: Departed Florida sometime between March 4-7 and completed migration to Necedah NWR area by March 21. Built a nest with #27-05 and the pair was incubating by April 18. The nest failed but one fertile egg was collected on April 29. No further nesting attempts this summer. The pair stayed mainly in Wisconsin’s Juneau County Forest.

A sad announcement of their death came on July 7 when the carcasses of this breeding pair were found on their summer territory in Juneau County Forest. Both carcasses were sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

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Crane #32-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 8, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: green

Personality and History

Oldest, biggest female in the 2008 DAR group. Very friendly towards other chicks and loves the crane costume. As of Aug. 22, she is close to flying and practices often. She is an independent forager. She sometimes temporarily disappears while off looking for food, but always is quick to catch up with the group.

She was released on Necedah NWR with #31-08 on October 18th. On October 22 these two were joined at the northern end of the refuge by flockmates DAR #35-08, #36-08 and #38-08. These five DAR chicks remained together on the northern end of the refuge. Signals from the birds’ radio transmitters sometimes indicate that adult Whooping cranes may be interacting with these chicks, but their remote location means no one usually sees this.

Fall weather in Wisconsin was unusually warm. On November 1, ICF Tracking Interns Eva Szyszkoski and Binga Elger checked on the five DAR cranes located on a remote part of the Necedah NWR. The area is quite difficult to get to.  

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a DAR Crane: On November 17 DAR chick #32-08 began migration with experienced adult #16-02 and DAR flockmates #31-08, #36-08, and #38-08. That night the small group roosted near Ogle County, Illinois! They were still in northern Illinois as of Dec. 1. On Dec. 5 they arrived in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Spring 2009: Trackers think #32-08 left on migration with this wintering group of five cranes, since #31-08 began migration north from Lawrence County, TN on March 17th or 18th and PTT data indicated that he (and probably the others) stopped in Gallatin County, IL on March 18th and Rock County, IL on March 20th.The group likely reached home on the night of March 22, as all were confirmed at Necedah on March 23! Sad news came just days later. DAR #32-08 was found dead by a local resident near East Bristol in Columbia County, Wisconsin, at 4:45 pm on April 3, 2009. She had last been seen alive with three other DAR birds (DAR #31-08, #36-08, and #38-08) near the same location just a few hours earlier. The carcass was in the ditch about 10 feet from the edge of a road and about 50 feet from a power distribution line on the other side of the road. An exam will be done to determine cause of death.

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Crane #35-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 25, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: green/white

Personality and Characteristics: From the beginning this chick was easily spooked. Whether another chick, a loud noise, or a rustle in the bushes, she bolted if she sensed any trouble. Sometimes even small, harmless things sent her running.

On August 9 she was happily foraging in the marsh in the company of the “costume” and flock mates #36-08 and 37-08. Adult pair #11-02 and #17-02 spotted them and started foraging closer. The adults came within 3 feet of the costume, making the chicks nervous. The adults unison-called to say “Get off our territory!” DAR #35-08 immediately stuck her head high in the air. The other two chicks chased and pecked at her tail, sending her running up a hill of tall grass. For 20 more minutes the adults followed the costume and other two chicks, trying to drive them off their territory.

Luckily, the two adults flew off when they heard another Whooping crane further north. But where was DAR #35-08? With the mp3 player calling for the missing bird, the costume (and another costume who came to help) listened closely for her chirp and watched for any movement in the tall grass. After 40 minutes, they found her just a few feet away from where she was last seen! She was hiding the whole time, waiting for the trouble to pass.

She was released on Necedah NWR with #36-08 on October 18th. The next day these two as well as DAR #37-08 and #38-08 flew back to the site where they were all raised. A few days later,#35-08, 36-08 and 38-08 flew to the northern end of the refuge and joined up with flockmates #31-08 and #32-08. These five chicks remained together on the northern end of the refuge. Signals from the birds’ radio transmitters sometimes indicate that adult Whooping cranes may be interacting with these chicks, but their remote location means no one usually sees this.

She separated from the group on November 3 and was likely killed the next day (Nov. 5). Her remains were found in a woods in a remote area of Necedah NWR. She had been the victim of an unknown predator. Pools and marshes north of Sprague Pool are mostly dry, which means unsafe roosting conditions for the cranes.

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Crane #36-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 27, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: green/white/green

Personality and Characteristics: This bird was known as the bully during his young chick days. Although in his past he would get upset at the sight of another bird and would chase anyone who got too close, he mellowed out. By end of August he had become a strong member of the younger group, though still the dominant bird of the younger cohort. He always has been very fond of the crane costume and likes to be near it often.

He was released on Necedah NWR with #35-08 on October 18th. The next day these two as well as DAR #37-08 and #38-08 flew back to the site where they were all raised. A few days later,#35-08, #36-08 and #38-08 flew to the northern end of the refuge and joined up with flockmates #31-08 and #32-08. These five DAR chicks remained together on the northern end of the refuge. Signals from the birds’ radio transmitters sometimes indicate that adult Whooping cranes may be interacting with these chicks, but their remote location means no one usually sees this.

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a DAR Crane: On November 17 DAR chick #36-08 began migration with experienced adult #16-02 and DAR flockmates #31-08, #32-08, and #38-08. That night the small group roosted near Ogle County, Illinois! They were still in northern Illinois as of Dec. 1. On Dec. 5 they arrived in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Spring 2009: Trackers think #36-08 left on migration with this wintering group of five cranes, since #31-08 began migration north from Lawrence County, TN on March 17th or 18th and PTT data indicated that he (and probably the others) stopped in Gallatin County, IL on March 18th and Rock County, IL on March 20th. The group likely reached home on the night of March 22, as all were confirmed at Necedah on March 23! He wandered during the summer and was seen with DAR #31-08 and DAR #38-08 in a marsh in Columbia County in September.

Fall 2009: Last seen in Wisconsin, together with DAR #31-08 and DAR #38-08, November 10. The three migrated together and data from DAR #31-08’s transmitter on the night of Nov. 11 showed them in Winnebago County, Illinois. They were less than 20 miles from where the Class of 2009 was camped. The three birds completed migration to their previous wintering location in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on November 27. But #36-08 disappeared from the group between then and December 11. No subsequent reports.

Fall 2010: Male #36-08 was declared presumed dead and counted out of the population at the end of 2010. He had been considered longterm missing because no confirmed sighting had been made since Dec. 11, 2009.

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Crane #37-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 29, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: The youngest of the group, this bird is by far the most independent. Shortly after hatching she lost a lot of weight. “We were fortunate to keep her alive,” said DAR Intern John Cullum. “Not only is she the youngest but she is the smallest of the birds, and on the small end of the normal range. She often kept some distance from the costume even as a very young bird. This is most likely because she was always surrounded by bigger, more dominant chicks. Now that she’s older, she still has no problem wandering far away from the crane costume.

She sometimes acts as though she doesn’t care where it is at all! She is also very easily distracted, and if she spots any type of bright colored, possibly delicious flower, she runs toward it and there’s no turning back.”

She was released on Necedah NWR with #38-08 on October 18th. The day after their release, these two plus DAR chicks #37-08 and #38-08 returned to the site where they were all raised. Soon they left DAR #37-08 and flew to the northern end of the refuge and joined up with DAR #31-08 and #32-08. But #37-08 was a loner in her younger days, and she stayed on the southern half of the refuge after the other DAR chicks left.

She has been seen in the company of older Whooping cranes every day. She seems to be hanging around them all the time, and often roosts where there are multiple Whooping cranes. One day she followed #27-06 and #28-06 (both DAR cranes from 2006) and #12-04 as they flew from one pool across the road to a small wetland. DAR #37-08 has also followed various adult Whooping cranes to cornfields south of the refuge. Sometimes she is part of a group of 10 or more other Whooping cranes and hundreds of sandhills. This behavior looks very promising: Will she continue to follow the more experienced cranes and migrate south with some of them? That’s the hope!

In November, 37-08 was still with a group of about 15 mostly sub-adult cranes on Necedah NWR. Included in this group is #10-08, who did not migrate with the ultralight-led group because he didn’t “play nice” with the others in the group. She hangs out with #10-08 at times.

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a Direct-Autumn-Released Crane: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group of the flock’s adult Whooping cranes and another first-timer, #10-08 (the chick pulled out of the ultralight cohort). Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, young #10-08 and #37-08 (in a group of six others) had reached the border of southern Illinois and southern Indiana.


Nov. 25: “They have been in this location for a few days now, and haven’t separated from each other once! It’s really adorable to watch them fly around together, landing in various fields and dancing quite often.” The group was in Gibson County, Indiana until Dec. 21, when they moved to White County, Tennessee. Photos Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Crane DAR #37-08 was confirmed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County, Florida, on January 1, 2009! She was with first-timer #10-08 and older whoopers #11-05, #12-05, #16-07, and #24-07. Thousands of sandhill cranes are there too. They completed migration sometime December 28 – 31.

Spring 2009: DAR #37-08 remained at her wintering location at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Florida with a pair of non-migratory whoopers at least through April 7. Her last remaining wintering buddy, #12-05, had begun migration from this location by March 25. Sad news came from Florida on April 17: The partial remains of DAR #37-08 were discovered by Tim Dellinger, Florida FWCC, during an aerial survey of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park on April 15. She had last been seen alive during a similar survey on April 7. Her PTT was recovered on April 16 after being tracked to an alligator 165 miles east of where the rest of her carcass was found.

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Crane #38-08

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 16, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: red/white/green

Personality and Characteristics: “This chick was always very attached to the costume. As a young chick, she developed some leg issues and wasn’t originally going to be part of the DAR project. She was brought to Necedah NWR with the other DAR chicks, in hopes that walking around in the marsh would help straighten her leg. As it turns out, she made a miraculous recovery, and is very good at maneuvering through the wetlands and foraging on her own,” reports her handler, ICF’s John Collum.

She was released on Necedah NWR with #37-08 on October 18th. The next day these two as well as DAR #35-08 and #36-08 flew back to the site where they were all raised. A few days later,#35-08, #36-08 and #38-08 flew to the northern end of the refuge and joined up with flockmates #31-08 and #32-08. These five DAR chicks remained together on the northern end of the refuge. Signals from the birds’ radio transmitters sometimes indicate that adult Whooping cranes may be interacting with these chicks, but their remote location means no one usually sees this.

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a DAR Crane: On November 17 DAR chick #38-08 began migration with experienced adult #16-02 and DAR flockmates #31-08, #32-08, and #36-08. That night the small group roosted near Ogle County, Illinois! They were still in northern Illinois as of Dec. 1. On Dec. 5 they arrived in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Spring 2009: Trackers think #38-08 left on migration with this wintering group of five cranes, since #31-08 began migration north from Lawrence County, TN on March 17th or 18th and PTT data indicated that he (and probably the others) stopped in Gallatin County, IL on March 18th and Rock County, IL on March 20th.The group likely reached home on the night of March 22, as all were confirmed at Necedah on March 23!

Fall 2009: Last seen in Wisconsin, together with DAR #31-08 and DAR #36-08, November 10. The three migrated together and data from DAR #31-08’s transmitter on the night of Nov. 11 showed them in Winnebago County, Illinois. They were less than 20 miles from where the Class of 2009 was camped. The three birds completed migration to their previous wintering location in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on November 27. Then they moved. According to PTT readings for #31-08, they returned to northwestern Alabama (Lauderdale County) by February 13, and then to Colbert County by the night of February 18.

Spring 2010: DAR #38-08 and DAR #31-08 moved from Colbert County, Alabama, back to Lawrence County, Tennessee, by the night of March 5. A PTT reading from DAR #31-08 confirmed he was back on the Wisconsin nesting grounds March 24 and trackers assumed DAR #38-08 was with him. She has since been visually confirmed at Necedah NWR and with #3-07 pretty much ever since they arrived back in Wisconsin. Eva said, “Hopefully this will be a potential breeding pair next year.”

Fall 2010: DAR #38-08 and male #3-07 were photographed at the end of November on the same private lands in Lowndes County, Georgia, where they’ve spent much time the past couple of winters. The landowners (confidential names) sent this photo.

Spring 2011: Left Georgia March 8 with #3-07 and they were back in the Necedah, WI core area by March 21. The pair built their first nest and began incubating April 12, but the nest failed on May 4 and they did not attempt another.

Fall Female #38-08 (DAR)and her mate #3-07 were on their winter territory in Lowndes County, Georgia, by December 4. They usually arrive just before Thanksgiving. 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. Cranes #39-07 and #7-07 adopted them and it was fascinating to watch her ‘mother’ them.”

Spring 2012: Female #38-08 (DAR) was detected the evening of March 11 on Necedah NWR, migration complete. It was assumed that her mate #3-07 was with her. 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 the 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: Pair #38-08 (DAR) and #3-07 arrived about 4 pm on November 29, reported the Georgia landowner on whose farm the pair spends winters. Female #38-08 was with her mate until he disappeared on their wintering territory sometime after December 17, when he was last observed alive. On December 30, 2012, she was seen without him, and she has been regularly observed alone or with the second pair, #7-07 and #39-07 (DAR), that also winters in the area. By early January 2013, trackers suspected the death of #38-08’s mate, as he would never just leave her like that. Many alligators had been seen in the area.

Spring 2013: Female #38-08 (DAR) was spotted March 1, still in the company of pair #39-07 (DAR) and mate #7-07, near Pecatonica, IL on their spring migration north. They left Georgia the previous week and were reported back at Necedah NWR on March 29! Female #38-08 (DAR) has a nonworking transmitter but trackers assumed she completed migration with the other two when they arrived March 29. (Her mate #3-07, presumed dead after his sudden disappearance in December, has been removed from the population totals.) The territory she occupied with him last summer was taken over this spring by another breeding pair.

Fall 2013: Crane DAR #38-08 was reported Nov. 20 and again Dec. 4 in Jackson County, Indiana with DAR #41-09, whose previous mate was not present with them. By February, the location of female #38-08 was unknown.

Spring 2014: Crane #38-08 DAR was reported with sandhill cranes in Winnebago County, Illinois, on 19 March and completed migration to Necedah by March 23.

Fall 2014: Crane #38-08 DAR, along with Cranes #6-11 and #15-11 DAR moved from their summering territory in Wood County, WI, to a staging location in Marquette County, WI, by September 28. They began migration on Oct. 30 or 31, and wintered at Wheeler NWR in Alabama.

Spring 2015: DAR #38-08 was still at Wheeler NWR as of June 30! She appeared in good health and uninjured. In mid-July she returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, where she was spotted on Bev Pauan’s aerial survey in August with her old pals, #6-11 and #15-11 DAR.

Fall 2015: DAR #38-08, together with cranes #15-11 DAR and #6-11, was first seen at Wheeler NWR in Alabama on November 20, 2015. They stayed there until Dec. 5, when they moved to McNairy County, Tennessee for the rest of the winter.

Spring 2016: DAR #38-08 (with nonfunctional transmitter) returned with cranes #15-11 DAR and #6-11, who were first reported back in Wisconsin on March 8.

Fall 2016: DAR #38-08 was reported at Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama in November.

Spring 2017: DAR #38-08 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin in spring. In a surprising turn of events, she and another female (#15-11 DAR) were seen sitting on a nest when Wisconsin DNR pilot Beverly Paulan spotted them on May 12! This is anomalous behavior and the only explanations the team has been able to come up with are: One of the genders is inaccurate, OR they’re incubating eggs that are infertile or not living, OR a nearby bachelor male paid a visit. 

On Bev’s May 30th survey flight, she noted “15-11/38-08 off nest, eggs smashed” – so indeed there were eggs! We’ll have to pay attention next year to see if this is repeated.

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Crane #10-08

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 15, 2008
Legbands: Left: red/white Right: red/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: Full sibling to #11-08. Both were collected as eggs from the parents’ abandoned nest at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. He was a quick learner, eating and drinking on his own in a very short time. Barb calls him “very cute but a little lazy in the pool. At times it seems as if he were floating on an inner tube drinking a refreshing ice tea. He needs to move those little legs in the water and get some exercise!”

This little guy was aggressive from the beginning. He was small, but acted like he knew he was ten feet tall! He had many “time outs” by himself from the time he could walk. Once he tried to start a fight with #3-08 in the pen next to him, and #3-08 was almost twice his size. On one of his many time outs, Barb said: “I checked on #10-08 often, only to find him enjoying life, all alone, no one to harass, no one to peck at. At a later date, Barb saw #10-08 pecking, flapping and jump raking towards his sister, #11-08 (she was in a pen next to him with Plexiglas separating them). “Not a good sign on the aggression factor scale,” said Barb, so #10-08 got some alone time before a later try again with the group. When Patuxent folks put him on the plane for Necedah, they wrote this message on the front of his shipping crate: “Good Luck.”

Whooping crane #10-08

Notes from flight school in Wisconsin: Chick #10-08 continued his aggressive ways after his cohort (the oldest chicks) arrived at Necedah NWR. The team was on alert, and quickly saw how his wild behavior put the other chicks at risk. He attacked three chicks one evening after he had seemed to be getting along with them enough to be left with the group all day (with frequent checks by the caretakers). He showed once again that he is dangerous to the other chicks. (Two healed from their injuries, but #7-08 died.)

Barb summed up: “He has given us our share of worry and, although he has caused us and his cohort much grief, he should be recognized for his survival skills. I have no doubt if he and #11-08 had hatched from that Necedah nest together, #10-08 would be the survivor. No chance for a set of twins to both survive in that nest.”

Meanie #10-08 was kept apart to prevent further aggression to the other chicks. The team watched him closely and he was allowed to return to the flock about a week later. In early September, pilot Brooke thinks “#10-08 is fine when in the pen but when out on the strip training, if someone gets out of line, or picks a fight with him, he WILL defend himself and it can escalate…”

The team will need to keep an eye on #10-08 because of his temper. Biggest in the Class of 2008, he weighed 6.7 kg at the pre-migration health check on Sept. 2.

He showed his mean streak again Oct. 5 when all the birds were mixing together for the first time on the runway. He attacked first one chick, then another, and then another. Pilot Brooke wrote: “Like referees at a boxing match we broke up clinch after clinch as true rage took control of his little body and he chased, jump-raked and grabbed birds with his beak.” Brian finally grabbed him by the wings and walked him back into the divided pen for some time out while the rest of the birds returned to their world of simple bird play and introducing themselves to each other. The team watched and Brooke wrote, “He paces in visible belligerence and agitation along his side of the pen fence, picking fights through the fence with any and all passing chicks. His behavior fills me with disappointment and dread, for we must now weigh the prospect of continued efforts of integration with the danger of him attacking and injuring yet more chicks.”

Expelled from Flight School

Team leader Joe Duff announced on October 7 that #10-08 would not be part of the ultralight-led flock this fall. “Even if he is as good as gold between now and departure time, how do we trust him especially once they are in the travel pen with its smaller space and lack of a wetland? We could isolate him during the migration by dividing the pen but we have found in the past that once a bird is separated they soon become indifferent to the costume and much more independent from the aircraft.

And how do we handle the early morning release? Do we let him out with the rest of the birds while we coordinate the take off? He may decide it’s payback time for being sequestered alone and our choreographed launch may turn into a donnybrook. How would one pilot handle the situation if they were forced to land with several birds including #10-08? And what of Florida? Would he be so aggressive as to force the others out of the pen like the white birds occasionally do at Chassahowitzka. Maybe we could send him to Chass and he could single handedly end that problem by giving all the white birds what-for. At any rate the risk is too high and we have reluctantly decided to remove him from the ultralight cohort.”

What’s next for #10-08?
“It is likely that #10-08 will become a release bird using a method similar to the DAR project, wrote Joe. “He will not be counted as a DAR release so his future will not affect the project evaluation but that team will coordinate his freedom. We will care for him until our departure and hand him over. He won’t need a shipping crate for this stage of his experience but maybe someone should engrave Good Luck on his leg band. That way he would carry with him our best wishes and a warning to others.”

On Oct. 8 the team let his cohort-mates #3-08, #4-08 and #5-08 keep #10-08 company in his pen for the morning and all went well. He wanted to charge out of the pen and follow the ultralight when the flock trained, and it was sad for the ground crew to hear him peep and call when he was left behind.

On the day before migration, the pilots moved the other 13 birds so they could spend the night in their travel pen to get used to it. Mr. #10-08, in a fenced off area, cried at being left behind when the others took off with the ultralight. The pilots returned after the other 13 birds were settled. As they rolled past #10-08’s pen gate, the doors were opened and #10-08 charged out for a nice flight all by himself with the ultralight. Now everyone was happier, especially #10-08! He will be banded and released after the ultralights and Class of 2008 are gone.

Wild and Free

October 22, 2008: Crane #10-08 was released at dusk at a pool on Necedah NWR. His flockmates and the ultralights were already on their way south. After realizing he was on his own, he flew to the nearby training site where he had spent most of the summer with Cohort One. But pair #3-10 and #W1-06 were there now, and chased him off. He flew next to the Canfield training site, where he spent the past three weeks. He was still there a few days later, along with a pair of older adult whoopers also spending time at the now-vacant site. These adults were #13-03 and #18-03 —the parents that abandoned the eggs from which #10-08 and #11-08 hatched!

He continued seeking out the company of other Whooping cranes elsewhere on the refuge. He was seen with #7-03 and #21-07 on Oct. 26 and with #3-10 and #W1-06 (the wild-hatched chick) Oct. 28.

By early November #10-08 had become integrated into a flock of about 15 mostly sub-adult cranes. The group includes DAR 37-08, who, like #10-08, will also be making her first migration very soon.

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a Released Crane: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group of the flock’s adult Whooping cranes and another first-timer, DAR #37-08. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, young #10-08 and #37-08 (in a group with #12-04, #11-05, #12-05, #16-07, #24-07, and DAR #46-07) had reached the border of southern Illinois and southern Indiana.

Crane #10-08 made it to Florida! He was confirmed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County, Florida, on January 1, 2009. He was with DAR #37-08 and several older whoopers. But after January 30 his radio signal was not detected there, and his current location is unknown. Trackers looked for him with searches on the ground and in the air but found no sign of him or his signal. 

Spring 2009: Although his death was never confirmed or substantiated by additional evidence, in May 2009 #10-08 was no longer considered alive in the Eastern flock population totals.

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