Class of 2009

 

Two release methods were used in 2009: Aircraft-guided (Group One) and Direct Autumn Release (Group Two). Group Three includes two wild-hatched whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population that unfortunately didn’t survive to fledge. 

All Whooping cranes released in 2009 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 – January 13th the migration to St. Marks NWR was complete for ten Whooping cranes: #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09,  #25-09, and #26-09.

On Day 89 or January 20th, 2010 the remaining half of the large cohort, consisting of ten more whooping cranes that would be spending the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR arrived at their winter home. These included: #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-07, and #29-09.

Group One: Ultralight-guided Whooping cranes
1-09 3-09 4-09 5-09 6-09 7-09

Died Nov ’10

Died Mar ’10

Died May ’14

Died Dec ’13

Died June ’15

Died Mar ’16

 
8-09 10-09 11-09 12-09 13-09 14-09

Died Apr ’14

Presumed dead Feb ’12

Died Apr ’15

15-09 18-09 19-09 24-09 25-09 26-09

Died Sept ’16

27-09 29-09

Died ’10

 Group Two: Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cranes
32-09 34-09 35-09 36-09 37-09 38-09

Died ’14

Died ’12

40-09 41-09 42-09

Died ’10

 Group Three: Wild-hatched cranes
W1-09

Crane #1-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 3, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/green/red

Personality and Characteristics: Chick #1-09 is the oldest and, although a female, the biggest. By sheer size #1-09 is is the dominant chick in Cohort One (the group that includes the 9 oldest chicks). She rarely throws her weight around and rules the roost by her mere presence, says Bev. On June 14 chick #6-09 challenged #1-09. By both age and pecking order/hierarchy, the young male is right in the middle of Cohort One. 

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin: She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #1 chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired #1-09 took a nap. When she awoke, she seemed right at home! Most of the chicks pecked at their new leg bands or even the bands of other chicks. She and #10-09 had a staring contest while they were standing next to each other at the feeder, but one of them backed down and wandered away. That was as close as they came to a conflict. All was peaceful on Day 1 in Wisconsin, but in the next days #1-09 had a cough and respiratory problems. Her health is being carefully watched. Like all the chicks in cohort one, she was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. By the end of August she’s not only a strong flyer but healthier too.

Cohort 1 flying August 17! Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

History

First Migration South: Chick #1-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #1-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #1-09 was a great follower, flying to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. 

Nov. 1: What’s up? Chick #1-09 was slow to exit the pen on today’s great flight to Stopover #3. Maybe it’s because she knew she could have Brooke’s plane almost all to herself.

Nov. 20: Crane #1-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

Jan. 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Female #1-09 flew all but 4 miles of this migration!

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to #1-09’s leg bands. Both #1-09 and#24-09 have WGR bands, BUT the transmitter and bands are on opposite legs, making each bird’s code a unique and separate banding code. On which leg are #1-09’s WGR bands?

Whooping crane #1-09.

Fall 2010: Female crane #1-09 was found dead during an aerial survey in Adams County, Wisconsin on December 1, reported tracker Eva Szyszkoski. Date of death has not yet been determined but it may have been on or before November 26. On that date, radio signals of four other cranes in this group, probably in flight, were detected near Janesville in Rock County, WI. The crane’s body was spotted by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan, who was doing an aerial wolf survey at the time. The scavenged carcass was recovered so a necropsy could help determine the cause or date of death.

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Crane #3-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 4, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: red/green/red

Personality and Characteristics: “Little #3-09 loves water,” said Bev. “He is the only chick that makes his “happy chick” sound (the trill), when he is swimming. We are swimming him twice a day, which we do with some chicks, to help strengthen potentially weak legs. Every time we pick up a chick, they scream bloody murder, peeping so loudly, it actually hurts the ears. Chick #3-09 is no exception until he sees the pool. We pick up and carry each chick to the pool, and #3-09 is the only one that actually calms down as we approach the water. As soon as we set him down, he starts to trill. Then he starts to bathe. At least he tries. He dips his head continuously, sometimes even getting his back under water. The first time I saw this, I nearly had a heart attack as his head disappeared under water. This is a regular thing with him, and I actually look forward to his daily swim.”

On June 4 intern Trish said, “#3-09 is huge now – up past my knee! I could see where his feathers are starting to grow in and he has these cute little Shrek-like tufts where his ears are.”

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort One chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, he fell asleep. When he woke up he stretched his wings and took a bath. It looks like he’ll like his new home just fine!

Like all the chicks in cohort one, he was flying by July 20, and he often needed a lot of coaxing to go back into the pen after flying a training session with the ultralight. On July 21 he flew at the height of the ultralight’s wing! By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By early August #3-09 and the rest of the group were flying circles over the training areas. Crane #3-09 became a great flier and follower—but in mid September, #3-09 often turned back after take-off. What is he thinking? He also is the last to come out of the wet pen when handlers check the birds at roost time. Maybe #3-09 prefers to be by himself.

On Sep. 26 he refused to stay with the ultralight when his cohort was led over to the site where the other birds have been together since Sep. 5. Finally, on Sep. 30 the pilot was successful in leading #3-09 and #11-09 over to complete the move so all the Class of 2009 is together at one pen site. That day, he flew again during a training session with his cohort mates.

Oct. 11: The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. The birds would be closer to their first migration stopover. But the birds had other plans! Only six followed the ultralights over and the others, including #3-09, wouldn’t follow and ended up in various places. After Joe landed cranes #3-09 and #19-09, the two were crated up and driven in the tracking van to the travel pen where the team wanted the flock tonight. But only nine of the Class of 2009 made it today, and the others finally got rounded up and are back at their old pen for another day.

First Migration South: Chick #3-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #3-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #3-09 proved that he could be a good follower as he flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #3-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov. 20: Crane #3-09, who has turned into a great follower, was one of only four chicks who obediently came back when called on exercise day. The other 16 took off and didn’t come back! The next day, the obedient four followed the ultralight to join their flock mates at Stopover #7.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #3-09 flew all but 4 miles of this migration!

Winter at Chass NWR: #3-09 is bossy. Winter monitor Eva tells about it: He challenged me for dominance by standing up tall and then jumping up high and raking forward with his toenails, trying to get me to back down. During one of his jumps he raked the top of my puppet head, which I was holding five and a half feet above the ground! I decided enough was enough. I chased him backwards until he eventually turned away, finally admitting he was not going to win THIS confrontation. He will probably try it many more times ahead.

#3-09’s leg bands. Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

Sara explains why you must pay close attention to #3-09’s leg bands. Both #3-09 and #27-09 have RGR bands, BUT the transmitter and bands are on opposite legs, making each bird’s code a unique and separate banding code. On which leg are #3-09’s RGR bands?

Gone. In March, #3-09 disappeared. “He and the other chicks roosted with or near three of the 2008 sub-adults on the night of March 6th, but he did not return with them to the pen the next day,” wrote Eva Szyszkoski, ICF Tracking Field Manager. “His radio transmitter signal could not be heard in the afternoon, and an airboat search was conducted that day. On March 8th, Tim Dellinger of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission searched the area for about two hours by plane, but with no luck. Another airboat search was conducted a day or two later but once again, nothing was found. It would be unusual for #3-09 to have migrated alone this early, and while we still have some hope that he may be alive somewhere, we have to admit that the chances of that are low. Even if he is no longer alive, it is unusual that we cannot hear his signal. Usually, even if a crane is killed by a predator, the bird’s transmitter still works and we are able to locate their remains.”

Death. Early on March 17 Dr. Richard Urbanek confirmed that #3-09 had died. His remains were found near a marsh on eastern Chassahowitzka NWR. The radio signal of the missing bird was detected by Tim Dellinger, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, during a search flight March 16. the remains had been moved by scavengers, and signals were detectable from tracking aircraft as well as from nearest airboat access 0.5 miles from the site. The ICF/FWS Tracking Team found the remains scattered along some hog trails. They believe he was likely killed by a bobcat, although wild hogs might have helped scavenge the remains.

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Crane #4-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 6, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: During training, #4-09 jumps straight up and down, wings flapping, because she is so excited to be out of her pen. Barb said #4-09 was always perfect and so beautiful. But by June 9, her leg became severely bowed almost overnight — very bad news. Barb and Bev swam the chick three times a day in hopes of preventing the leg from getting worse. With a small miracle, swimming might even improve #4-09’s leg. The handlers normally only swim the chicks until they are 21 days old, unless the legs are weak or starting to rotate. So swimming a 34-day-old chick is a big deal. They began right away. Three days later Bev nervously went to check on #4-09: “I turned on the vocalizer, opened the gate and looked in. She was hock sitting and preening her newly sprouting feathers. She saw me and stood and slowly ambled over towards me. I wanted to close my eyes until I realized I was looking at a pair of nearly straight legs! Unbelievably, the swimming worked! The progress held, and in less than a week’s time #4-09’s leg went from perfect, to bowed, to perfect again. Barb has never see a chick’s bowed legs be straightened so well as #4-09’s, and she called it a miracle. Now #4-09 was feeling better. She was running and hopping again. When Bev brought the little group back from the pond the evening of June 14, #4-09 led the group! She hopped out in front of the them, flapping her wings. Over and over she ran far ahead, then turned and ran back to join the group. Bev said, “She is definitely on the road to recovery.” Hooray, #4-09!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin: She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort One chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired #4-09 took a nap. When she awoke, she had a snack and wandered around — right at home! She did well in training sessions, and like all the chicks in cohort one, she was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. She is a natural! Geoff thinks #4-09 seems very curious. She comes up to costumed Geoff when he’s sweeping up spilled crane food, as if to say, “What’s this? What are you doing?”

The health checks in September made #4-09 extra wary of the costumes. She gave them dirty looks for 3 days and was last to “forgive” the crane handlers. She became the last chick to exit the pen for training. She has overcome a lot of challenges in her short life, and she can overcome her grudge, too.

First Migration South: Chick #4-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #4-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #4-09 was a great follower! She flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. She’s getting better! 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #4-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed! Now we can expect more days like this. Bev says #4-09, the second-oldest female, is, and always has been the most graceful of the flock. Bev thinks she is the most beautiful. Her black ‘mustache’ coupled with her mostly white plumage and fine delicate legs, make her a real beauty.

Nov 20: Crane #4-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 7: Female #4-09 was one of three leaders on this double-leg flight. She led most of the first leg before #6-09 took over. But #6-09 kept diving below the wing, and leading the rest of the birds with him. Richard said, “I guess #4-09 disliked this behavior, as it made the birds at the back of the line work harder, and decided to take the lead away from #6-09.” She broke out from the back of the line and out of the slipstream, charged ahead past all of the other birds, and butted in front of #6-09 to take the lead!

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-07, and #29-09! Female #4-09 flew all but 6 miles of this migration!

Winter at Chass Release Site: Eva says, “Chick #4-09 looks a lot like an adult. She has very little brown plumage left. Sometimes we mistake her for an adult when we are in the blind until we get a close look at either her leg bands or her head. She may have a lot of white plumage, but she doesn’t have the red head patch of an adult quite yet.”

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 disappeared) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness on March 13. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09,#27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 migration the next day (April 10), when the group of eight made it home. Their signals were detected the next day, April 11, on Necedah NWR: migration complete!

Fall 2010: Last to leave Necedah NRW on migration, cranes #4-09 and #16-04 departed December 1. These two were likely the two reported in Shelby County, Illinois on Dec. 6 with cranes #12-07, #17-07 and #31-08 (DAR). Four of these cranes were detected together in flight through western Kentucky on that same day. Winter location?

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

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

Spring 2012:  Cranes #4-09 and #16-04 were detected back on Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete. How does this compare with last year’s arrival date? They were on a nest by April 14 or 15. Aerial trackers next reported the pair was apparently provisioning at least one chick (this would be #W6-12). The pair was off nest when trackers observed them from a plane on May 21. They appeared to be tending a chick but it had disappeared by the June 15 nest check.

Fall 2012:

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

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, but they abandoned their nest shortly after that.

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

Spring 2014: Pair #16-04/#4-09 arrived back on territory in Monroe County, Wisconsin, by/on March 21. They nested and the nest was still active when checked on April 30! But on May 5, female #4-09 was found dead. She was completely intact, with no signs of predation. “The health lab says that cause of death was blunt trauma to the body.” reported tracker Eva Szyszkosk, who explained: “It means that something hit her or she hit something very hard, however the more likely thing is that something hit her because her humerus was broken, which means that she wouldn’t have been able to fly. She was found about 30 meters from the nest.” The loss of another breeding female is bad news for this endangered species.

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Crane #5-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 6, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: On her first trips outdoors with a few of the other chicks, the costumes/trainers saw that #5-09 cared about nothing but catching and eating worms!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #1 chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, #5-09 cried nonstop. “Where am I? This doesn’t look familiar! Where are the earthworms?” The rest of the chicks mostly ignored her, although they sometimes would halfheartedly join in and peep once or twice. Maybe they were too tired to protest, as they all took a nap — but not #5-09. She kept crying! The others awoke from their naps, and #5-09 eventually settled down and slept. By the next morning she was back to normal as if nothing had ever happened.

She paid good attention in training sessions and was flying by July 20. By early August all of cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. What a beautiful sight! Crane #5-09 is just happy to hang loose and do what’s expected of her. She fits right in and doesn’t give the team any worries. She is dependable and a good flier and follower of the ultralight.

First Migration South: Chick #5-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. Chick #5-09 and #25-09 both landed at one of the old pens on Necedah NWR. In a surprise move when the winds calmed in late afternoon, pilots tried to get these two birds to follow the ultralights to join up with chicks who had landed at a second old pen site on Necedah. The two birds did so well that the pilots kept going—all the way to the migration’s first stopover site. Cranes #5-09 and #25-09 finished the day with the other five flockmates that made it to stop #1 earlier in the day. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #5-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #5-09 was a great follower, flying to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. She’s doing much better! 

Nov 1: Chick #5-09 was slow to exit the pen on today’s great flight to Stopover #3. As a result, she (and also-slow #1-09) had Brooke’s wing all for themselves.

Nov 20: Crane #5-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 7: Crane #5-09 led most of the first leg on this double-leg day before #6-09 took over. But #6-09 kept diving below the wing, and leading the rest of the birds with him. Richard said, “I guess #5-09 disliked this behavior, as it made the birds at the back of the line work harder, and decided to take the lead away from #6-09.” She broke out from the back of the line and out of the slipstream, charged ahead past all of the other birds, and butted in front of #6-09 to take the lead!

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Female #5-09 flew every single mile of this migration without ever being boxed and driven!

March 13: The nine remaining chicks (#3-09 was killed by a predator) at Chass with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 migration the next day (April 10), when the group of eight made it home. Their signals were detected the next day, April 11, on Necedah NWR: migration complete!

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

Spring 2011: Female #5-09 and cranes #33-07 and #7-09 and #42-09 (DAR) were reported in LaSalle County, Illinois, on March 24 and resumed migration from this location on March 30. They were found at their previous summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin, on April 4, migration complete! She built a nest with male #33-07. Their single egg was collected on June 12 after 40 days of incubation. This is the first time in the Eastern Migratory Population that a two-year-old female has laid an egg.

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

Spring 2012: Pair #5-09 and #33-07 — together with pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR — completed migration back to their usual summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 12 or 13. Their previous known location was Hopkins County, Kentucky. They had been hanging out there with cranes #2-04 and #46-07 (DAR). On March 19, female #5-09 and her mate #33-07 were observed nest building. They were found with a nest on April 2 and it was abandoned on April 7. They were seen with a new nest in Adams County on the April 26 nesting survey flight. They continued incubating after the eggs were full term, and the eggs never hatched: No chicks for this pair in 2012.

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF with aerial support from Lighthawk

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

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

Fall 2013: Female #5-09 and her mate #33-07 again migrated south to Hopkins County, Kentucky, arriving about November 14. On Nov. 25 a local resident reported #5-09 as injured, but still able to fly. On Nov. 27 the much weakened #5-09 was rescued and taken to a Kentucky rehabilitation center for surgery but doctors were unable to save her. The scavenged remains of her mate #33-07 were found about five miles away on Dec. 13; investigators believe both were unlawfully shot during the same incident. Federal wildlife authorities had kept quiet about the deaths of these endangered birds while more evidence was gathered, but announced the bad news in a press release on January 15, 2014. They want the public’s help in finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice for their crime.

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Crane #6-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 6, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/red/green

Personality and Characteristics: On May 29, Bev was getting #5-09 and #6-09 out of their pens to meet a few other chicks in the field behind the building. Little #6-09 did not want to come through the gate! Bev was already through the gate with #5-09 and all the other birds were backtracking to come see what I was doing. They all waited while #6-09 paced at the gate. He would not come through. Nothing I did would get him to cross this threatening threshold. Finally I put the robo-crane puppet right under his nose and inch by inch, slowly, got him to cross the gate. Once across, and when we finally started walking, the birds went into high gear running everywhere, bumping into each other, running enthusiastic zig-zag patterns, jumping, leaping. The “costumes” watched and learned more about each chick. They began to learn that #6-09 is, always has been, and probably always will be a scaredy-cat. He shies at everything and everyone.”

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin: He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort One chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired #6-09 took a nap. After waking, most of the chicks pecked at their new leg bands or even investigated the bands of other chicks, but all was peaceful in the new pen! He paid good attention during training sessions and, like all the chicks in cohort one, he was flying by July 20.By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. He knows just what to do.

First Migration South: Chick #6-09 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 16, 2009. He was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #6-09 below.

Oct. 27: Crane #6-09 didn’t do as well on the second leg. He (and several others) turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #6-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov. 20: Crane #6-09 was one of only four chicks who obediently came back when called on exercise day. The other 16 took off and didn’t come back! The next day, the obedient four followed the ultralight to join their flock mates at Stopover #7.

Dec. 4: Pilot Brook watched the “#6-09 Show” as this leader flew a foot or two to Brooke’s right, then his left, then just ahead, obviously playing the “Who’s Leading Who?” game.

January 7: He still wants to lead! Crane #5-09 led most of the first leg on this double-leg day before #6-09 took over. But #6-09 kept diving below the wing, and leading the rest of the birds with him. Pilot Richard thought #5-09 disliked this behavior, as it made the birds at the back of the line work harder, and she came from behind and butted in front to take the lead away from #6-09.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09,  #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #6-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Dawdlers #6-09 and #12-09 finally left Florida’s St. Marks NWR on April 14 to start their northward migration—22 days after their eight pen-mates had departed. Matt said, “The weather was not favorable for migration. As I started tracking their flight, I found that strong east winds blew the birds far to the west. In fact, although only 40 miles due south of the Georgia border, these two would not fly into Georgia airspace. Instead, they would be blown over 50 miles west into Alabama.” They settled for the night in Chilton County, Alabama, 235 miles from St. Marks NWR. The two were spotted flying over through Vermilion County, IL on the morning of April 18th. “They should be back up here soon”, said Eva from the Necedah area, “but we haven’t heard them yet.” She was right: She picked up their signals on April 21 as they flew over the Necedah NWR! MIGRATION COMPLETE. But they didn’t stay! Matt Strausser, ICF Tracking Intern, then followed the birds for another five hours. The birds crossed out of Wisconsin and into Iowa, where they landed to roost in a wetland in Allamakee County, Iowa. No checks or reports since then.

Fall 2010: Migrated and wintered in Hamilton County, Tennessee with #6-05 and #38-09 (DAR).

Spring 2011: The group #6-09, #6-05 and #38-09 (DAR) left Hamilton County, TN sometime between Feb. 25 and 27. They were reported back in the Necedah NWR area by March 21.

Fall 2011: Male #6-09 wintered in Greene County, Indiana with #35-09 (DAR).

Spring 2012: He was detected in flight headed north over ICF headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin on March 15 with female #35-09 (DAR). Close to home!

Fall/Winter 2012- 2013: Wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: If bands were reported correctly, Crane #6-09 was among three adult whoopers reported March 26 in a reclaimed wetland area of an Illinois quarry. “They have been loafing and feeding in the same area of the wetland for at least the last 2 days,” reported the observer. Their current location is 4 miles from the Livingston Co., IL stopover site of the ultralight-led migration south for male #6-09. Perhaps he’s the leader of this trio’s journey north? The birds with him are #27-10 (DAR) and #35-09 (DAR). The three completed migration to Necedah NWR March 29! By late April or early May cranes #35-09 DAR and #6-09 were nesting but they, along with several other nesting crane pairs, abandoned their nest in early May. No chicks for this pair this summer…

Spring 2014: He completed migration back to Necedah NWR by March 21. He is no longer with female #27-10 DAR.

Fall 2014: Migrated with female #23-10 DAR to Greene County, Indiana. The pair made a short trip (less than two weeks) to Wheeler NWR, Alabama,in early January.

Spring 2015: He and his mate #7-12 both died on their territory in June. The male’s remains were discovered June 30, near where his mate’s remains were recovered earlier, and during the time when he was molting and thus vulnerable to predation.

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Crane #7-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 7, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: red/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: On the first trips outside with other little chicks, the costumes/trainers learned early that #7-09 always lagged behind. Then she stuck out her little stubby wings and ran as fast as she could to catch up. It will be fun to see how she changes as she grows. Here’s a photo of her doing circle pen training as she learns to walk near the ultralight.

Brooke and the “robo-crane” puppet give #7-09 mealworm treats during a training break. Photo: OM

She was grouped for socializing with #5-09, #6-09, and #8-09. She had always been a very submissive chick but in mid June, #7-09 decided that should change. She walked through the pen one afternoon taking pecks and jabs at anyone close by. Except for #8-09, the other birds just moved out of her way. But usually aggressive #8-09 stood up to #7-09. The two girls faced off and each pecked at the other’s beak, and #7-09 got the better of #8-09 — who skulked off with head lowered and one wing out in the most submissive posture a chick can take. It sounds like #7-09 is coming up in the ranks!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #1 chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired #7-09 took a nap. That was unusual, as she’s usually a worrier. when she awoke, she seemed right at home! Most of the chicks pecked at their new leg bands or even the bands of other chicks.

She did well in training sessions as the wing was added to the trike and the chicks’ first steps in flight attempts proceeded. Like all the chicks in cohort one, she was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits and doing well as a “team.”

Geoff says crane #7-09 seems timid and wary. She backs away from the handlers. She minds her own business and is reliable in training.

First Migration South: Chick #7-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five of their flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #7-09 below.

Oct. 20 (Still trying to reach Stopover #1): Today #7-09 did a great flight! She was the ONLY one of the 9 chicks still at their old Necedah pen who would follow pilot Joe today. After another crane rodeo in the air, 8 are still at Necedah but #7-09’s arrival makes 12 now at Stopover #1 on a day when the pilots had hoped and planned to fly all 20 birds onward to Stopover #2. DAY ONE drags on to more days!

Oct. 27: Crane #7-09 turned back to old Stopover #1 on today’s flight. She (and several others!) had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #7-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov. 20: Crane #7-09 was one of only four chicks who obediently came back when called on exercise day. The other 16 took off and didn’t come back! The next day, the obedient four followed the ultralight to join their flock mates at Stopover #7.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Female    #7-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Four days after arrival at Chass, the chicks got health checks and their new bands. This photo shows #7-09’s new bands. The radio transmitter is on the left and the satellite transmitter (PTT) is on the right. Photo by ICF tracker Eva.

March 13: The chicks at Chass with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

What’s missing from #7-09’s leg? Photo: Matt Strausser, ICF

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #27-08 and #30-08. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they all ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6:00 p.m their first day of migration. The next morning, Apr. 6, female #7-09 apparently split from the group early in the morning and flew to a different location somewhere to the north. She was also continuing her migration, but this time alone. Tracker Eva reported that #7-09 roosted in Etowah County, Alabama on the night of April 6; in Todd County, Kentucky on the nights of April 7 and 8; in Warrick County, Indiana, on the night of April 9th; Kankakee County, Illinois, on the night of April 10th; and at Will County, Illinois, on the night of April 11 for several more days. On April 12 Eva reported that #7-09 is traveling alone, not with sandhills. “April 12 was a perfect migration day there, but she was apparently not interested in leaving even though she’s a day’s flight from Necedah NWR.” She resumed migration May 16 and roosted that night in Dane County, Wisconsin. By May 18 she had moved to Horicon NWR in Dodge County, where she stayed before completing migration to Necedah NWR on May 29—this time with #36-09 DAR. In typical subadult behavior, she wandered in several counties, including Dodge, Fond du Lac, Waushara, Green Lake and Adams Counties, sometimes joining other Whooping or Sandhill cranes during the summer.

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

Spring 2011: Female #7-09 and cranes #17-03 and #5-09 and #42-09 DAR were reported in LaSalle County, Illinois, on March 24 and resumed migration from this location on March 30. They were found at their previous summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin, on April 4, migration complete!

Fall 2011: Migrated only as far as Lawrence County, Illinois.

Spring 2012: Female #7-09 arrived on the nesting grounds of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 7 with male #17-03, whose mate died last August. This new pair was observed sitting on a nesting platform in May, but were not observed there again. No eggs were ever confirmed but perhaps next year they’ll become parents!

Fall 2012: Female #7-09 wintered with her mate #17-03 first in Lawrence County, IL (their previous wintering location) before the pair moved to Knox County, Indiana, for the remainder of the winter. They began their journey north to Wisconsin on March 22 or 23.

Spring 2013: Female #7-09 arrived March 29 on the nesting grounds of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin with her mate, #17-03. They soon had a nest together but the nest failed early in May, along with the nests of several other crane pairs during an outbreak of black flies. This pair did not attempt to renest this summer.

Fall 2013: migrated to Knox County, Indiana, apparently re-paired with male #12-05. “We do not know what happened to her previous mate, #17-03, but it’s possible that #12-05 stole #7-09 away from him,” said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. The pair remained in Knox County as of January 31 but later broke up.

Spring 2014: Female #7-09 completed migration to the Necedah NWR by 28 March when she was observed with a crane with a nonfunctional transmitter. She has since been observed with a new mate, male #26-10 DAR. (Crane #12-05, her “mate” during the winter, was on his remote territory, also with a new mate.)

Fall 2014: Female #7-09 began migration from the Necedah area with mate #26-10 DAR on November 16 and wintered in Gibson County, Indiana along with #16-04.

Spring 2015: Female #7-09 returned with mate #26-10 DAR and the pair had an active nest by May 4, but no further updates about any successful hatchings.

Fall 2015: Female #7-09 migrated from the Necedah area to Lawrence County, Illinois.

Spring 2016: She was photographed in February 2016 on her wintering grounds with a new mate, male #10-11. Crane #7-09 has also had a band color change (see above). Sad news came on March 12 when her body was discovered in Lawrence County, Illinois. Cause of death was undetermined. Her mate #10-11 was alive nearby.

Photo: Pete Weber

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Crane #8-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 8, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green

Personality and Characteristics: Bev said, “#8-09 has been the speediest of all the chicks since the first time she was let outside. I have never seen a chick go faster or try harder to keep up. She reminds me of a sprinter on the race track. She has the same can-do attitude in the circle pen and nothing keeps her from being right there next to the trike.”

She loves to take a bath in her footbath. She squirms to get her whole body in the water. She dips her head under the water, then looks up and lets the cool water run down her neck and over her back. Then she jumps out of the water and leaps and runs, flapping the whole time as she dries herself.

Chick #8-09 started out as a fairly aggressive chick. She was grouped with #5-09, #6-09, and #7-09 for socializing but had to be separated from them every night because she was usually very pecky. She took a shot at anyone who got too close. But one mid-June day Bev actually saw #8-09 back down from the previously-most-submissive chick in the cohort, #7-09. When #8-09 walked through the pen one afternoon and pecked at the others, only #7-09 stood up to her. The two girls faced off, each pecking at the other’s beak. Crane #7-09 got the better of #8-09, who skulked off with head lowered and one wing out. (This is the most submissive posture a chick can take, and something new for #8-09!) Unfortunately, #8-09 suffered a broken leg during her time in Maryland.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
Recovering from her broken leg kept #8-09 from being transported to Wisconsin with her Cohort One. She arrived in Wisconsin with Cohort Three on July 10 to be reintroduced to her Cohort One chick-mates. Her injured leg healed nicely and she seemed no different from the rest of her cohort during training. She ran just as fast as the others and got enough air under her wings to be flying in ground effect by mid July. Like all the chicks in cohort one, she was flying by July 20.

One day near the end of July, 8 of the 9 chicks in Cohort 2 followed the ultralight well on a lap down the runway. But on the return lap, #8-09 and #14-09 decided to join naughty #18-09 in the swamp. Meeting up with the swamp monster (which Richard deployed from the trike by yanking on a string attached to a broom out in the swamp) convinced both #8-09 and #14-09 to leap back over the fence as if it wasn’t there and get back on the runway and then into their pen. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. In the middle of the pack, Chick #8-09 kept up so well with the others that no one would ever know her leg was broken when she was a baby.

First Migration South: Chick #8-09 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 16, 2009. She was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site! Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the four.

Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #8-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #8-09 proved again that she’s a great follower as she flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #8-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed.

Nov 20: Crane #8-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #8-09 flew every single mile of this 1113-mile migration without being crated even once!

Winter at St. Marks NWR: Brooke took this photo of #8-09 learning to catch blue crabs.

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Crane #8-09 remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes she had been with all summer and a few others. She and 2009 cohort mates #11, #15, #18, #25, and #29 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically but the “costumes” always drove them away. The group (except for #25 and #29) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13. They were not found in a search of the area by ground on February 9.

Spring 2011: Crane #8-09 had completed migration from Florida by April 2 with #18-09, when they were detected on the Necedah NWR. They had last been detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. They were then with #11, #15 and male #29-08. Later she was seen building a nest with male #27-08, but without results. She was still with male #27-08 in mid June.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #27-08 to Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Crane #8-09 (with #27-08) was reported back on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete!

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Crane #8-09, now with new mate #2-04 was reported back on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 24, but they likely had come in on March 23 with cranes #1-10 and #W1-10. The pair was soon nesting, but the nest failed in early May: No chicks for this pair this summer.

Fall 2013: This fall, crane #8-09 and mate #2-04 seem to have successfully adopted a young whooper chick (#24-13) that was raised by adult whoopers this summer at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and released in September on Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR in hopes the chick would join a willing adult pair without a chick. The team of crane experts is watching and waiting to see if the new “family” will migrate south together. This is a new program, called Parent Rearing (PR), to grow the eastern flock of endangered Whooping cranes. The group moved to Sauk County, Wisconsin, on October 21 and left on migration from that location on November 10. Satellite readings placed them in Jasper County, Illinois, on November 11 and at the adults’ previous wintering location in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on November 13. Well done, #4-02 and #8-09! The family was still there through at least March 3, with other adult Whooping cranes. 

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

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Crane #10-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 9, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green/red/green

Personality and Characteristics: At first chick #10-09 followed #5-09 like a shadow! He is also very cooperative when following the trainer and puppet back to his pen after ground school training. He must like his pen. One day when he saw his pen in the distance he started running for it! When outside, #10-09 likes picking apart a pile of dried grass in his ongoing search for worms. He grabs a beak full, shakes it to shreds, and then goes into the leaf pile for another beak full.

#10-09 in his pen while watched by Sadie, one of the Patuxent role-model cranes (Photo: Operation Migration)

He was soon paired with #10-09 for socializing and soon they were spending days and nights together, doing just fine in the pond, grass and pen. These two will be part of Cohort One, the oldest and the first group of birds to be shipped to Wisconsin for flight school before migration in October.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort One chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired #10-09 took a nap. When they awoke, most of the chicks pecked at their new leg bands or even investigated the bands of other chicks. Female #1-01 and male #10-09 had a staring contest while they were standing next to each other at the feeder, but one of them backed down and wandered away. That was as close as they came to a conflict. All was peaceful on Day 1 in Wisconsin! In the following weeks he proved to be a good student and, like all the chicks in cohort one, he was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. He gained strength and stamina with each practice session. When moving day came on September 16, #10-09 flew alone with Brooke’s ultralight the whole way to the larger pen site where Cohorts One and Two were already living together. Maybe he will remember how nice it was to be the only crane and try for more “solo” flights with the ultralight!

October 11, 2009: Migration has not yet begun but the crane rodeo has. The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge that was closer to their first stopover site. But the Class of 2009 ended up at three different pen sites on the refuge, and the team had to track and find some lost birds, including #10-09! After dropping out of the morning flight, he wasn’t found until late afternoon when Richard was airborne again. His radio picked up #10-09’s signal and quickly zoned in to his location. Richard saw #10-09 in a clearing in the center of a wooded area to the north and west of the pen site he’d left this morning as the pilots tried to lead the birds away. Although Richard tried to coax him into the air behind his ultralight, the bird wouldn’t follow. The only solution was for the crew to come with a crate to box him up and drive him. They brought him to the old pen, where several of his classmates were foraging. The rest of the flock is at the new site in a travel pen. After a crazy day, he must be happy to be with some buddies again!

First Migration South: Chick #10-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #10-09 below.

Oct. 22: Chick #10-09 (and #13-09) didn’t want to leave the wet pen to come out and exercise today. After some treats, they ran out and flew a few circuits to join their flockmates at the end of the runway by their Necedah pen. Then all eight stay-behind birds were boxed up and driven to Stopover #1! Surprise! Chick #10-09 (and #13-09) were the last to go into the new travel pen because they were excited to be running around and playing with clumps of grass. Richard and Bev were very patient. Eventually they got the two playful chicks into the pen. Brian stayed behind to watch over the chicks, and to make sure they all settled in to their portable home. At last all 20 are together again and ready to migrate —when the rain goes away.

Oct. 27: Crane #10-09 (and several others) turned back again to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #10-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #10-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

Nov 30: Crane #10-09 was one of the three birds who flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. He finished the trip to Stopover #9 traveling by road in a crate.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #10-09 flew all but 30 miles of this migration!

Winter at St. Marks NWR: #10-09 uses his beak to pound open the shell of a blue crab. 

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Crane #10-09 successfully migrated and was with #4-08 on December 23 in Levy County, Florida. They appeared at the St. Mark’s NWR pen site in Wakulla County, 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. The two 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. By March 24 he was with female #17-07 in Monroe County. (#17-07 has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.) They stayed at this location into April.

Fall 2011: He was seen on Nov. 5 in a corn field in Juneau County, WI with other Whooping cranes and his companion, the injured female #17-07. The two have sometimes returned to one of the pools on the Necedah refuge to roost, and male #10-09 seemed very protective of her. His mate recovered and the two migrated and wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Male #10-09 summered on territory with mate #17-07.

Fall 2012: Pair #10-09 and #17-07 migrated south after 15 October to Greene County, Indiana, where they had arrived by 29 October. They remained there for the winter. 

Spring 2013: Male #10-09 began spring migration with his mate #17-07, but she left him in Sauk County, Wisconsin and completed migration before him. He arrived alone on March 30 at Necedah NWR.

Fall 2013: Male #10-09 was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. “We assume these are the same birds,” said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. “Based on band reports they are likely birds #12-09, #12-03/#29-09, #18-09/#35-09 and              #10-09/#17-07, although not all have been confirmed yet.” His mate (#17-07) was not with him all winter.

Spring 2014: Male #10-09 was confirmed back at Necedah NWR on March 28, when he was seen with female #12-03, but he soon was paired up again with his former mate #17-07. (The two had wintered at separate locations.) They nested, and the nest was still active as of April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

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

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

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

Spring 2016: Pair #10-09 and #17-07 returned to their Wisconsin territory and nested. On June 7, male #10-09 was seen standing on a nest with two eggs visible. The nest failed so there were no new chicks for this pair in summer 2016.

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

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Crane #11-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 11, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green/white/red

Personality and Characteristics: The first time a few of the chicks were together outside, #11-09 did nothing but cry (peep loudly) for the entire time! But he got better.

On June 6 intern Trish, with puppet, was helping experienced trainer Barb Clauss with #10-09 and #11-09. Barb left the novice to take the chicks back to their pens. Little #11-09 decided to stop in a drying mud puddle to forage for worms when he spotted a moth. He chased after it, darting high and low and missing the moth each time. After the moth flew away, the “puppet” managed to get #11-09’s attention again and got him moving through the gates of the pens. Chick #10-09 stayed near Trish/puppet, trilling and pecking at the worms while he waited. But not #11-09! He turned around and started running full speed in the opposite direction! Luckily Barb eventually came to the rescue, which is when “#11-09 behaved like an angel,” said Trish!

He was soon paired with #10-09 for socializing and soon they were spending days and nights together, doing just fine in the pond, grass and pen. These two will be part of Cohort One, the oldest and the first group of birds to be shipped to Wisconsin for flight school before migration in October.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
Male #11-09 was transported to Wisconsin with the other oldest chicks (Cohort One) on June 25. He adjusted well to his new home and was ready for flight school right away. He made quick progress in flapping, hopping, striding and running alongside the ultralight, and he was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. The pilots are pleased with #11-09’s progress and cooperation.

On Sep. 26 he refused to stay with the ultralight when his cohort was led over to the site where the other birds have been together since Sep. 5. Finally, four days later (Sep. 30), the pilot was successful in leading #11-09 and #3-09 over to complete the move. All the Class of 2009 is together at one pen site. That same day, he flew again during a training session with his cohort One mates.

Nov 20: Crane #11-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #11-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes he had been with all summer and a few others. He and cohort mates #8, #15, #18, #25 and #29 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically but the “costumes” always drove them away. The group (except for #25 and #29) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13.

Spring 2011: Crane #11-09 was detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. He was then with cohort mates #8, #18, #15 and male #29-08; all successfully migrated north to central Wisconsin for summer.

Fall 2011: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09, and DAR birds #34-09, #38-09 and #27-10 were reported in Marshall County, IL on December 8, and signals from #11-09 and #15-09 were detected at St. Marks NWR in Florida on January 2 and 3. They wandered and found a good territory near Tallahassee in a pasture with a herd of cows, and stayed for the next two months, until spring migration.

Photo: Lou Kellenberger

Spring 2012: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 completed migration to central Wisconsin by March 20. These 3-year-olds built a nest and began incubating one egg on April 27. Unfortunately, the eggs disappeared by May 6, likely due to predation. This is not surprising for such young and inexperienced parents, so we wish them better luck next spring with more experience behind them!

Fall 2012: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 arrived back at their Leon County, Florida winter home on November 26. The pair makes their territory on private property there. Each evening they arrive to spend the night and every morning they depart for a day of foraging. Before leaving on their day’s adventures, they often chase either the cows or the Canada geese that share their winter territory.

Spring 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 began migration March 22 and arrived back in central Wisconsin on April 3. They soon had a nest together but they abandoned the nest in early May, apparently in response to the hatch of black flies in late April. Their eggs were collected, hatched in incubators, and the young cranes were used in release experiments at sites in eastern Wisconsin where there are fewer black flies. The pair did not nest again this summer.

Fall 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 safely migrated to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida. They dropped in at the St. Marks pen site in February!

Spring 2014 : Pair #11-09/#15-09 were seen dancing on March 7 by the landowner on whose “cowpond” they’ve spent the past three winters. The next day they were no longer there. They were confirmed back at Necedah NWR on April 1 and soon were nesting. The pair hatched chick #W8-14 in May! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, as the pair and their chick could not be located. (Neither adult has a working transmitter.)

Fall 2014: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 safely migrated once again to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida, finally arriving on January 3, 2015 after being in Indiana so long that it looked like they’d stay there. “Better late than never,” exclaimed the delighted landowner where the crane pair winters. “So VERY happy that our two Whooping Cranes have FINALLY returned to their Cow Pond.” On the left is male #11-09, strutting his stuff for his mate #15-09.

The pair wandered a bit on some nights and, surprisingly, were tracked on some nights to a different roosting spot than usual.

Photo: Karen Willes

Spring 2015 : Pair #11-09/#15-09 appear to have started their journey north on the same day as they began it last spring! They failed to return the evening of March 7th and returned safely to their Wisconsin nesting grounds. By mid May, and again May 22, they were observed tending to their new chick, #W2-15. The chick did not survive. Unfortunately, pair #11-09 and #15-09 separated in late summer.

Fall 2015 : Male #11-09, who split with his long-time mate #15-09 in late summer, migrated south and finally arrived at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day on the winter territory near Tallahassee where he and his former mate spent winter since 2010. He was alone:

Spring 2016 : Male #11-09, who split with his previous mate before fall migration last year, returned to Wisconsin and found a new mate by June. He and parent-reared (PR) #20-14 are a pair now.

Fall 2016: This male number 11-09 failed to return to the cowpond near Tallahassee, FL. The last sighting of him was August 1, 2016 at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

Spring 2017: Still no news

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Crane #12-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 14, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/green/red

Personality and Characteristics: Some chicks learn how to eat rapidly, others take awhile. Little #12-09 and #13-09, who are siblings, took at least 4 days before they started eating and drinking to the satisfaction of the costumes/trainers. Soon they became robust little birds!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick #12-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grass runway. They are running, hopping and flapping, but not yet flying. However, by the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude.

Bev reported on August 10: The mid-aged birds at the West site are the most independent group. This is obvious during training, and in the evening. At the night roost check, we stand in the pen for several moments before they lazily wander our way. Chick #12-09 is always the second one (after #15-09) into the dry pen to see the costume before bedtime. As summer turned to fall, the birds in this middle group became a great flying team. On September 19, most of them flew for an astonishing 53 minutes! Chick #12-09 is just happy to be in the flock and doesn’t create any problems.

First Migration South: Chick #12-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #12-02 below.

Oct. 17: Chick #12-09 was one of the four who flew with Richard from the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1 to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #12-09! Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the four.

Oct. 27: On today’s flight crane #12-09 (and several others) didn’t follow well. They turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #12-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #12-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

Nov 30: Crane #12-09 flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. Then Brooke was able to get #12-09 to fly with him, so he finished the trip to Stopover #9 flying alongside his own private plane!

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #12-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration! In the photo, crane #12-09 looks for blue crabs during winter at the release pen. Both #12-09 and  #6-09 stayed behind another 22 days, enjoying the St. Marks release pen by themselves after their classmates had departed on migration.

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Dawdlers #12-09 and #6-09 finally left Florida’s St. Marks NWR on April 14 to start their northward migration—22 days after their eight pen-mates had departed. Matt said, “The weather was not favorable for migration. As I started tracking their flight, I found that strong east winds blew the birds far to the west. In fact, although only 40 miles due south of the Georgia border, these two would not fly into Georgia airspace. Instead, they would be blown over 50 miles west into Alabama.” They settled for the night in Chilton County, Alabama, 235 miles from St. Marks NWR. The two were spotted flying over through Vermilion County, IL on the morning of April 18th. “They should be back up here soon”, said Eva from the Necedah area, “but we haven’t heard them yet.”She was right: She picked up their signals on April 21 as they flew over the Necedah NWR! MIGRATION COMPLETE. But they didn’t stay! Matt Strausser, ICF Tracking Intern, then followed the birds for another five hours. The birds crossed out of Wisconsin and into Iowa, where they landed to roost in a wetland in Allamakee County, Iowa. No checks or reports since then.

Fall 2010: The radio signals of crane #12-09 and #41-09 (DAR) were detected at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida) on December 5. Crane #24-09, who has a weak transmitter, is probably still traveling with them. No further news until March 18!

Spring 2011: “We don’t know where in Florida they wintered,” reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #12-09, #24-09 and #41-09 (DAR) stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn’t leave until 20 March. Radio signals of #12-09 and #41-09 (DAR) were detected in flight over Sauk County on March 29, and these birds likely arrived in the Necedah NWR area that day.

Fall 2011: Migrated and spent the winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Male #12-09 was confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on the evening of March 27th. Eva had detected him in flight through Illinois the day before as she did a 2-day tracking flight to the south.

Spring 2013: Male #12-09 was confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin Mar. 30.

Fall 2013: Male #12-09 was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. “We assume these are the same birds,” said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. “Based on band reports they are likely birds #12-09, #12-03/#29-09, #18-09/#35-09 and #10-09/#17-07.”

Spring 2014: Male #12-09 had not yet been confirmed at Necedah NWR by April 11 but tracker Eva Syszkoski, but she suspected he may have re-paired again with #27-10, who was detected on the refuge on April 5.

Fall 2014: Male #12-09 is wintering in Indiana with female #14-09, whose previous mate was captured and moved to captivity in Zoo New England in May 2014.

NOTE: Tracking field Manager Eva Szyszkoski hopes that #12-09 might influence #14-09 to change her habits and possibly her final wintering location. If #12-09’s influence carries over into spring, this new pair may abandon #14-09’s Volk Field territory for #12-09’s previous summering locations just west of the Necedah NWR. The new pair was photographed by tracker Eva in December in Gibson County, IN with #19-09 and #25-10.

Spring 2015: 12-09 stayed in Gibson Co, IN until he was seen at Necedah NWR on May 4, 2015. By May 25, he had returned to Gibson Co, IN, where he stayed by himself through the summer.

Fall 2015: Male #12-09 was still by himself in Gibson Co, IN through fall and winter 2015.

Spring 2016: By April 22, #12-09 migrated back to his previous territory in Juneau Co, WI and was associating with male 16-12. The two were seen in the area throughout the spring and summer.

Fall 2016: Male #12-09 associated with 16-12 until he was seen on Dec 17, back in Gibson Co, IN by himself. He spent the rest of December 2016 alone in Gibson Co, IN.

Spring 2017: Male #12-09 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, for the summer.

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Crane #13-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 14, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Some chicks learn how to eat rapidly, others take awhile. Little #12-09 and #13-09, who are siblings, took at least 4 days before they started eating and drinking to the satisfaction of the costumes/trainers. Soon they were robust little birds!

In the first days of outdoor walks in little groups, chicks #13-09 and #14-09 would whirl around “like dervishes as they try to peck each others necks.” Each time the puppet reached down and gently moved between them to separate them as costumed Bev flapped her white sleeve to distract them. Then Bev would start to run and encourage the chicks to follow her instead of pummeling each other.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick #13-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grassy runway (with their old pal, Robo-crane). The chicks could run, hop and flap but not yet fly. However, by the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude.

Bev reported on August 10: The mid-aged birds (Cohort 2) are the most independent group. This was obvious during training, and at the evening roost check, when the handlers stood in the pen for several moments before these chicks lazily wandered over. Chick #13-09 was usually the third (after #15-09 and #12-09) to come into the dry pen at night roost check. He became a very good flier and follower of the plane. He is neutral with the costumes, accepting that they are dominant over him. But he is curious about what the costumes are doing when they sweep under the feeders to clean up spilled food. He appears to be supervising the sweeping! By mid September this cohort flew well together. They flew for 53 minutes on September 18, and the whole month had wonderful training weather.

Nov 20: Crane #13-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #13-09 flew all but 4 miles of this migration!

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 was killed by a predator) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09,#4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 two groups. Both groups continued migration the next day (April 10) and the group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09) was tracked to Waukesha County, Wisconsin where they dropped out early, likely because the very strong winds from the west made it extremely difficult for them to keep going west. Cranes #13-09 and #19-09 were detected in flight over the core reintroduction area in Wisconsin on May 16. They were next reported in Ransom County, North Dakota, on May 22 and 25.

Fall 2010: Cranes #13-09 and #19-09 were seen in Madison County, Illinois. They were last reported flying over Chassahowitzka NWR pensite in Citrus County, Florida, on December 2.

Fall 2011/Winter 2012: Male #13-09 was presumed dead and removed from the population total in February 2012 after being missing for over a year.

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Crane #14-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 16, 2009
Legbands: Left: red/green/white Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Bev said, “#14-09 has very fat little legs and is so dark, she reminds me of a little Kodiak bear. She is also the most trusting of all the chicks. When Brooke took #14-09 for a walk, my heart almost melted. I looked over at the two of them and saw this little tiny fuzz ball, just 5 days old, following the costume, looking up at the huge white body next to her. She just toddled along, slowly, but never more than a step behind Brooke.” Later, #13-09 and #14-09 would whirl around “like dervishes as they try to peck each others necks.” The puppet reached down and gently moved between them to separate them and costumed Bev flapped her white sleeve to distract them. Then Bev would start to run and encourage the chicks to follow her instead of pummeling each other!

As the days passed, #14-09 emerged as the “queen” of her little group, Cohort Two.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick #14-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grassy runway (with their old pal, Robo-crane). The chicks run, hop and flap but cannot yet fly.

One day near the end of July, 8 of the 9 chicks in Cohort 2 followed the ultralight well on a lap down the runway. But on the return lap, #14-09 and #8-09 decided to join naughty #18-09 in the swamp. Meeting up with the swamp monster (which Richard deployed from the trike by yanking on a string attached to a broom out in the swamp) convinced both #14-09 and #8-09 to leap back over the fence and get back on the runway and then into their pen. By the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude. As the weeks went on, this cohort (middle birds) grew to be the most independent of all the birds, and #14-09 had become the most submissive.

On Sep. 22 OM Intern Geoffrey watched #14-09 boss #28-09. “I figured she wouldn’t have it in her to throw her weight around anyone else but #25-09, another equally passive bird. But then again, I guess it isn’t hard to push around a smaller, younger, asthmatic chick,” said Geoff. Female #14-09 also has staredowns with #25-09. It’s as though the two most submissive females were arguing about who is the MOST submissive!

October 11: They missed the target migration date, but on October 11, the team tried to combine a training session with a short flight over to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. Only six birds cooperated, and #14-09 was not one of them. She took a pounding from the adult pair, who literally flattened her in the tall grass as she tried to run for cover into the nearby woods. There was some blood on her back and she was scared when the costumes approached, but they patiently played calls from the vocalizers to calm her. Brooke arrived to help as they walked her back out through the thick brush. Erin stayed with #14-09 while Bev and Brooke readied a crate. Soon #14-09 was loaded onto the back of the truck for the drive to the travel pen site. There she was released and went into the pen to join 8 other flockmates, the only ones who made it over to the new pen that day. She seems just fine after her adventure.

First Migration South: Chick #14-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #14-09 below.

Oct. 27: Again on today’s flight crane #14-09 (and several others) didn’t follow well. They turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #14-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed! Now they may have the confidence to keep going like this.

Bev says #14-09 is obtaining her red crown patch already. The tawny feathers are shedding, revealing the bare red skin beneath.

Nov 20: Crane #14-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #14-09 flew all but 12 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Crane #14-09 was found at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, Florida, during an aerial survey on December 13, migration complete. She moved to another area in Florida in early February.

Spring 2011: Female #14-09 remained at her wintering site in Alachua County, Florida at least through last check on March 24.

Fall 2011: A pair of cranes believed to be female #14-09 and mate #1-01, were observed on a pond at the male’s usual wintering location in Citrus County, Florida, by a neighorhood mother and son on December 5. They had been watching for the pair to return! The pair spent the winter in the area.

Spring 2012: Female #14-09 and mate #1-01 were found back at their summering area on March 23 but had likely arrived at least by March 22, reported tracker Eva Szyszkoski. The pair built a nest but did not lay any eggs in the 2012 breeding season. The were together on their territory all summer, and through fall migration and winter.

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: The pair #14-09 and male #1-01 completed spring migration to the Wisconsin summer nesting grounds on March 29.

Fall 2013: Female #14-09 and male #1-01 migrated south to Citrus County, Florida for the winter.

Spring 2014 Crane pair #14-09/#1-01 began migration from Citrus County, Florida, on 14 or 15 March. They were reported in Bartow County, Georgia, on 16 March and Larue County, Kentucky, on 21 March. As of April 2, 2014, they had not yet been confirmed back in Wisconsin.

Fall 2014 Female #14-09, the bird that frequented Volk Field with then-mate #1-01, was confirmed with her new mate, #12-09, in Knox County, Indiana.

NOTE: Crane #14-09 regularly had been wintering in a neighborhood in Citrus County, Florida, before #1-01’s removal from the wild population to live in captivity at Zoo New England on May 29, 2014. Tracking field Manager Eva Szyszkoski hopes that new mate #12-09 will influence #14-09 to change her habits and possibly her final wintering location. If #12-09’s influence carries over into spring, this new pair may abandon #14-09’s Volk Field territory for #12-09’s previous summering locations just west of the Necedah NWR.

Spring 2015 Female #14-09 wintered with her new mate #12-09 in Gibson County, Indiana, where she was seen alive on April 16. On April 29 her remains were found there; she had likely died on or by April 18.

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Crane #15-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 16, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/red/white

Personality and Characteristics: On May 23 trainers Barb and Bev watched #15-09 on a remote camera as she put herself to bed. “She was still motoring around her pen, taking a couple of drinks from her water jug, frustrating Barb and I that she wouldn’t settle down. And just like the toddler she is, after one last drink, she walked under her brood model (adult crane model) and flopped to a lying position. She fought a valiant battle against the sandman, but soon she could no longer keep her eyes open and her head was on the ground. After a couple of nods, she was off to dreamland.”

During training sessions at Patuxent, little #15-09 and #16-09 seem to always be in tune and totally at ease with each another.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick #15-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grassy runway (with their old pal, Robo-crane). The chicks run, hop and flap but cannot yet fly. However, by the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude. Chick #15-09 is a good flock member.

Bev reported on August 10 that the mid-aged birds (Cohort 2, at the West site) are the most independent group. This is obvious during training, and at the evening roost check, when the handlers stand in the pen for several moments before they lazily wander over—and #15-09 is always first to enter the dry pen where the handlers give each chick a good look to be sure everything’s okay.

To Geoff, #15-09 seems like the “good egg” of the bunch. She’s the first out the gate to fly with the ultralight, the first to come get her meds. She really likes the costume.

First Migration South: Chick #15-09 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 16, 2009. She was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #15-09 below.

Oct. 27: She didn’t do as well today, and turned back instead of following the ultralight to Stopover #2. She and several others had to reach Stopover #2 in a crate, traveling by road.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #15-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #15-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-01, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #15-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes she had been with all summer and a few others. She and #8-09, #11-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #29-09 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically but the “costumes” always drove them away. The group (except for #25-09 and #29-09) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13. They were not found in a search of the area by ground on February 9.

Spring 2011: Crane #15-09 was detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. She was then with #8-09, #18-09, #11-09 and male #29-08.

Fall 2011: Cranes #15-09, #11-09, and DAR birds #34-09, #38-09 and #27-10 were reported in Marshall County, IL on December 8, and signals from #15-09 and #11-09 were detected at St. Marks NWR in Florida on January 2 and 3. They wandered and found a good territory near Tallahassee in a pasture with a herd of cows, and stayed for the next two months.

Spring 2012: Cranes #15-09 and #11-09 had completed migration to central Wisconsin by March 20. These 3-year-olds built a nest and began incubating one egg on April 27. Unfortunately, the eggs disappeared by May 6, likely due to predation. This is not surprising for such young and inexperienced parents, so we wish them better luck next spring with more experience behind them!

Fall 2012: Cranes #15-09 and #11-09 arrived at their Leon County, Florida winter home on November 26. The pair makes their territory on private property there. Each evening they arrive to spend the night and every morning they depart for a day of foraging. Before leaving on their day’s adventures, they often chase either the cows or the Canada geese that share their winter territory.

Spring 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 began migration March 22 and arrived back in central Wisconsin on April 3. They soon had a nest together but they abandoned the nest in early May, apparently in response to the hatch of black flies in late April. Their eggs were collected, hatched in incubators, and the young cranes were used in release experiments at sites in eastern Wisconsin where there are fewer black flies. The pair did not nest again this summer.

Fall 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 safely migrated to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida. They dropped in at the St. Marks pen site in February!

Photo: Claire Timm

Photo: Karen Willes

Spring 2014 : Pair #15-09/#11-09 were seen dancing on March 7 by the landowner on whose “cow pond” they’ve spent the past three winters. The next day they were no longer there. They were confirmed back at Necedah NWR on April 1 and soon were nesting. The pair hatched chick #W8-14 in May! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, as the pair and their chick could not be located. (Neither adult has a working transmitter.)

Fall 2014: She was captured and given a new transmitter/colors on the right leg before migration. She and mate #11-09 safely migrated once again to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida, finally arriving on January 3, 2015. “Better Late Than Never,” exclaimed the delighted landowner where the crane pair winters. “So VERY happy that our 2 Whooping Cranes have FINALLY returned to their Cow Pond.” On the left is male #11-09, strutting his stuff for his female #15-09.

The pair wandered a bit on some nights and, surprisingly, were tracked on some nights to a different roosting spot than usual.

Spring 2015: Pair #15-09 and #11-09 appear to have started their journey north on the same day as they began it last spring! They failed to return the evening of March 7th and returned safely to their Wisconsin nesting grounds. By mid May, and again May 22, they were observed tending to their new chick, #W2-15, but the chick did not survive. Unfortunately, pair #15-09 and #11-09 split and ended the summer apart.

Wild chick 2-15

Fall 2015: Female #15-09, who had split from her mate by summer’s end, was seen before migration November 2 when Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan spotted her on Necedah NWR along with cranes #11-02 and #19-10.

Spring 2016: Female #15-09 was observed by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan, back on a Necedah territory with male #11-02. The pair nested and hatched chicks on May 27 and May 29. One chick (#W12-16) survived until early July. The father (#11-02) disappeared by July 13 and his carcass was discovered in August. By then, female #15-09 had paired again with #11-09, her mate previous to #11-02. Like her mate, she did not survive the summer either.

Fall 2016: The remains of female #15-09 were found on September 7th at Necedah NWR. Cause of death remains undetermined.

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Crane #18-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 25, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/red/white Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: When #18-09 looks up and sees a butterfly flitting overhead, he takes off at full run trying to catch the butterfly. He jumps up and tries to grab it just as the butterfly darts off.

On May 30 Bev took #18-09 out to the trike for the first time just to let him wander around it and under it: “We turned the vocalizer on, trying to give him the whole sensory experience. We fed him meal worms and let him get comfortable just seeing the trike. On June 1 Brooke started the engine for the little guy. After the initial engine start, lots of meal worms, and even some revving of the engine, we got him to follow for two circuits. I like to keep the first training session short. This way, we leave the circle pen with the chick happily trilling and actually looking for more meal worms.” Off to a great start!

As the days passed, #18-09 was a slow learner about not messing with #14-09, the “queen” of his group! Luckily he was also smart enough to know when to back down. Bev calls #18-09 (and #19-09) little stinkers!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Normally the chicks stand up in their crates for the whole flight (about 5 hours) but during the flight, #18-09 was sitting on his hocks. Was he injured? Dr. Barry Hartup wanted to make sure #18-09 was okay before taking the one-hour van ride to Necedah. He found no sign of injury. The bird just didn’t feel like standing! Project leader Joe Duff met the plane and drove the van with the chicks in their crates from the airport to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Joe said, “We had barely started our drive when #18-09 sat down again. As long as there is no injury it is likely a safer way to ride except for the possibility of overheating. We prevented that by cranking up the A/C to max.” Chick #18-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine!

Safely in his new home, it didn’t take long for #18-09 to prove that he loved the water of the marsh. He has a history of exploring the marsh in search of water to forage in so this chick will be a challenge to the pilots.

July 10 was Bev’s first day to taxi the trike during flight school. She said, “#18-09 is our little water rat, and just as he does every morning, he wandered into the marsh. This morning, though, he didn’t go far, and after leaving him for one pass with the other chicks, he came out as soon as we taxied back to the spot where he stood.”

By the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude. However, on many days #18-09 liked to lollygag and hang back inside the pen instead of rushing out to training. He LOVES the marsh and tries to spend the entire training session running along the fence that separates it from the runway. One day near the end of July, he and the other 8 chicks in Cohort 2 followed the ultralight well on a lap down the runway. But on the return lap, naughty #18-09 once again escaped to the swamp and two chicks went with him. Meeting up with the swamp monster (which Richard deployed from the trike by yanking on a string attached to a broom out in the swamp) scared the other two back onto the grass runway — but NOT #18-09! An adult pair of whoopers took charge of #18-09 and Richard and Erin had their hands full. Richard said: “At long last, after much jump-raking and many back-and-forth threats we managed to get #18-09 away from the adults and back into the pen. With boots full of water I flew back to the hangar pondering life without the superhero/monster tarp and — maybe without #18-09!”

This is a very independent group of birds, but none more than #18-09. But he seems to be a favorite of the two adult Whoopers (#13-02 and #18-02) who who lost their baby chick this summer and then claimed this training site as their territory. The team discussed releasing #18-09 to go join the wild adults. Would they raise #18-09 and teach him the migration route? The team decided to keep #18-09 with his cohort because of all the training already invested. They hoped he will become a better follower of the ultralight plane. Sure enough, he did! Hear crane handler Bev on this brief audio clip: 

Later, #18-09’s attitude/attentiveness to the adults cooled off. Now that he’s flying, he visits the marsh much less, and he excitedly follows the training trike along with his cohort mates. Still, #18-09 is a bird who likes to do his own thing — which means hanging out in the marsh or staying in the wet pen.

Oct. 11: The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. The birds would be closer to their first migration stopover. But several wayward birds had other plans! Male #18-09 was one of them. He had flown back to his familiar pen all on his own, so he was put inside the pen along with the other 10 birds who had also come back or didn’t want to leave. The other 9 flockmates were at the travel pen at the farther site on the refuge. What a day!

First Migration South: Chick #18-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #18-09 below.

Oct. 17: Chick #18-09 was one of the four who flew with Richard from the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1 to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #18-09! Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the four:

Oct. 27: Once again, #18-09 was a good follower to Stopover #2 with no problems! He was one of only seven to do so. 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #18-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #18-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

Nov 30: Crane #18-09 was one of the three birds who flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. He finished the trip to Stopover #9 traveling by road in a crate.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #18-09 flew all but 8 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!”

Fall 2010: Remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes he had been with all summer and a few others. He and #8-09, #11-09, #15-09, #25-09, and #29-09 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically but the “costumes” always drove them away. The group (except for #25-09 and #29-09) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13. They were not found in a search of the area by ground on February 9.

Spring 2011: Crane #18-09 and #8-09 had completed migration from Florida by April 2, when they were detected on the Necedah NWR. They had last been detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. They were then with #11-09, #15-09 and male #29-08.

Fall 2011: Crane #18-09, with #25-09, spent winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Crane #18-09 was reported back on Necedah NWR March 11, migration complete! ICF tracker Eva saw #18-09 and #25-09 with an egg May 2, but the pair never incubated the egg.

Fall 2012: Returned to Goose Pond in Greene County, IN to spend the winter.

Spring 2013: Crane #18-09 was reported back on Necedah NWR March 29 with mate #25-09.

Fall 2013: Male #18-09 was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. “We assume these are the same birds,” said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. “Based on band reports they are likely birds #12-09, #12-03/#29-09, #18-09/#35-09 and #10-09/#17-07, although not all have been confirmed yet.”

Spring 2014: Crane #18-09 was confirmed back on Necedah NWR on March 27 when he was observed trying to steal female #26-09 from male #27-06.

Fall 2014: Male #18-09 migrated south to Knox County, Indiana, where he joined several other Whooping Cranes at that location by his arrival on Nov. 23.

Fall 2015: Male #18-09 migrated south in November to Greene County, Indiana, where he was with female #23-10 DAR and several other Whooping Cranes.

Spring 2016: Male #18-09 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, with female #23-10 DAR. Their first nest failed but they were observed on a renest May 6. Their new chick, #W20-16, hatched on June 5 but did not survive into the summer.

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Crane #19-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 26, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/white/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: For the first days after he hatched, #19-09 would cry and peep every time the costume/trainer left his pen. Sometimes his peeping was so loud you could hear it from the next room. If the chick heard footsteps in the aisle, the cries got louder. “Don’t leave me alone! Stop in for a visit!” And when the costume/trainer walks in his pen, his happy trills start: “You came back! I’m so happy to see you!”

He had his introduction on June 1 and when Bev turned on the vocalizer, which is much louder than the pocket ones the trainers carry, he walked right up to it looking for “mama.” That’s when Bev predicted that #19-09 wouldn’t even flinch when the trike’s engine started the next day. She was right! They got him to follow very shortly after starting the engine.

“He seemed to like it so much that he calmly walked around pecking at meal worms and gravel and even trilling occasionally. He will be a great follower in the air,” said Bev. “We can always tell the chicks that will be the best followers by how they react that very first time.”

 

Bev calls #19-09 (and #18-09) little stinkers, but male #19-09 quickly learned not to mess with the “queen” (#14-09)! That would change, however, as he continued to grow into one of the two biggest and strongest birds in the flock.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick #19-09 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grassy runway (with their old pal, Robo-crane). The chicks run, hop and flap but cannot yet fly. However, by the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude. Handlers soon saw that Cohort 2 birds were the most independent group. It was obvious during training, and at the evening roost check, when the handlers stand in the pen for several moments before the birds lazily wandered over to the dry pen, where the handlers nightly inspect each chick by looking at its eyes, beak, legs, toes and feathers. Male #19-09 kept getting bigger and stronger that any of the other birds.

After cohorts 2 and 3 were joined, chick #19-09 and #24-09 (also a huge bird) often fought for dominance. Both are big, strong males who pecked each other in the face and tried to stomp each other to the ground. Neither wanted to give an inch in their fight for dominance. One September day after training, they had a “time out.” The costumes walked them up and down the training strip and tried to break up any tiffs. The two “enemies” did okay that day, but they will be closely watched and kept apart when in the pen with the others at night until they decide which one is boss. Even though #19-09 is older, the handler see signs that he may be backing down slightly to the younger #24-09, but the battle is still not decided.

Oct. 11: The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. The birds would be closer to their first migration stopover. But the birds had other plans! Only six followed the ultralights over and the others, including #19-09, wouldn’t follow and ended up in various places. After Joe landed cranes #19-09 and #3-09, the two were crated up and driven in the tracking van to the travel pen where the team wanted the flock tonight. But only nine of the Class of 2009 made it today, and the others finally got rounded up and are back at their old pen for another day.

First Migration South: Chick #19-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #19-09 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick #19-09 did MUCH better. He was a great follower and flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #19-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #19-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #19-09 flew all but 4 miles of this migration!

Eva Szyszkoski, ICF took this photo of 19-09 at Chass during the winter. He is losing some of his head feathers and showing more of the red patch that will probably be fully developed this summer. 

 

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 disappeared) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

19-09 dancing (Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF)

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 two groups. Both groups continued migration the next day (April 10) and the group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09) was tracked to Waukesha County, Wisconsin where they dropped out early, likely because the very strong winds from the west made it extremely difficult for them to keep going west. Cranes #19-09 and #13-09 were detected in flight over the core reintroduction area in Wisconsin on May 16. They were next reported in Ransom County, North Dakota, on May 22 and 25. No subsequent confirmed reports.

Fall 2010: Cranes #19-09 and #13-09 were seen in Madison County, Illinois. They were last reported flying over Chassahowitzka NWR pensite in Florida on December 2.

Spring 2011: He began migration from Lake County, Florida on April 3.

Fall 2011: Crane #19-09 migrated to Alabama’s Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and spent winter there along with two of the DAR youngsters in the Class of 2011.

Spring 2012: Began migration Feb. 26 about 9:30 a.m. from Alabama’s Wheeler NWR with a flock of about 60 Sandhills and the two DAR youngsters (#15 and #18) from the Class of 2011. He apparently stayed with the two youngsters until they were all safely back on Necedah NWR on March 14 and then parted with them. He began hanging out with male #25-10) by mid May. These two males stayed on and near Necedah NWR throughout the summer.

Fall 2012: Males #19-09 and DAR #25-10 were reported on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin on October 25 and apparently began migration from this location. On Nov. 21 they were discovered in Gibson County, Indiana, where they remained throughout the winter. Also present there were pairs #12-02/#22-07 and #16-02/#16-07.

Spring 2013: Males #25-10 and #19-09 began spring migration from their wintering location in Gibson County, Indiana, between April 1 and 3 and were not yet documented back on Necedah NWR as of April 5.

Fall 2013: Male #19-09 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana, where he was last reported January 31, 2013.

Spring 2014: Male #19-09 was confirmed back at Necedah on 2 April. He was observed with parent-reared (PR) male #22-13.

Fall 2014: Male #19-09 wintered again in Gibson County, Indiana, where he was photographed in December with #25-10 DAR and new pair #12-09/#14-09.

Spring 2015: Male #19-09 and male #25-10 DAR were first reported at Necedah NWR on March 31. They spent the spring and summer there.

Fall 2015: Pals #19-09 and #25-10 DAR migrated to their wintering grounds in Lawrence County, Illinois, on Nov. 23.

Photo: John Pohl

Spring 2016: Males and #19-09 #25-10 DAR migrated back to Wisconsin in April and again spent the spring and summer at Necedah NWR.

Fall 2016: In November, crane #19-09 was reported on his wintering grounds in Gibson County, Indiana, along with his buddy #25-10 DAR.

Photo: John Pohl

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Crane #24-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 28, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/green/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Bev reports, “#24-09 is a little terror. He is the aggressor of cohort three. He keeps the other chicks in line with an occasional peck, but doesn’t chase after anyone. He just gives a peck if his space is invaded. He is a good follower.”

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15. They did beautifully. All of them followed the trike and paid no attention to anyone else. Chick #22-09 is the dominant bird but #24-09 is so mad about it that he pecks any and all the other chicks.

Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

When Richard trained Cohort 3 near the end of July, #24-09 (and all but one of the other 7 chicks) came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats upon reaching the end of the runway. They weren’t flying yet, but making progress. Go, Cohort 3!

By mid August #24-09 was starting to fly in ground effect. By the end of August he was flying well. One day after his cohort had already trained, he was back in the pen while the two youngest were getting some extra training with the ultralight. Pilot Richard was surprised when #24-09 escaped from the pen and flew around in the air, showing off his flight skills. He is dominant and in control. He even tried to assert his dominance over pilot Richard, who is six feel tall!

On August 24, The cohort 3 chicks were led on the longest flight (thus far) of their young lives. As the pilot made a turn behind some trees, one bird was flying very low, struggling to remain airborne. The chick couldn’t keep up and disappeared behind the dike west of the pen. Soon the whole team was on a chick hunt. They played the crane call on their vocalizers. They waded through knee-deep water and bush-wacked through tall grass. Two trikes circled overhead with pilots searching from the air. Finally the missing chick appeared walking back towards the grass runway. It was #24-09! He was happy to be found but really tired.

First Migration South: Chick #24-09 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 16, 2009. He was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #24-09 below.

Oct. 27: On today’s flight crane #24-09 didn’t follow so well, but neither did several others. He turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #24-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov. 20: Crane #24-09 was one of only four chicks who obediently came back when called on exercise day. The other 16 took off and didn’t come back! The next day, the obedient four followed the ultralight to join their flock mates at Stopover #7.

Nov 30: Crane #24-09 flew loyally in rough winds but later dropped out when he got too frustrated or tired to finish. Joe found him and #24-09 completed the last few miles to Stopover #9 flying by Joe’s wing.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-05, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #24-09 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to #24-09’s leg bands. Both #24-09 and #1-09 have WGR bands, BUT the transmitter and bands are on opposite legs, making each bird’s code a unique and separate banding code. On which leg are #24-09’s WGR bands?

Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 disappeared) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 migration the next day (April 10), when the group of eight made it home. Their signals were detected the next day, April 11, on Necedah NWR: migration complete!

Fall 2010: Crane #24-09 (hereafter known as #24-09, per WCEP naming conventions) is likely still with #12-09 and #41-09 DAR, whose signals were detected by the Homosassa Springs (Florida) WSP datalogger on December 5.

Spring 2011: “We don’t know where in Florida they wintered,” reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #24-09, #12-09 and #41-09 DAR stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn’t leave until 20 March. They all migrated back to Wisconsin. Cranes #24-09 and #12-09 were confirmed in Monroe County, WI on April 1.

Fall 2011: Crane #24-09 with mate #42-09 DAR and pair #33-07 and #5-09 began migration between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2. They were found in Vigo County, Indiana, during a tracking flight on Dec. 3. They showed up in Hopkins County, Kentucky at the end of January, whee they were hanging out with with cranes #2-04 and #46-07 DAR.

Spring 2012: Pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR — with pair #5-09 and #33-07 — completed migration back to their usual summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 12 or 13. They built their first nest, began incubating April 4 and successfully hatched two chicks (#W2-12 and #W3-12) on May 7 and 8. Sadly, both chicks were lost to them by May 16.

Photo: Eva Szyszkorski, ICF with aerial support from Lighthawk

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Pair #24-09 and mate #42-09 DAR completed spring migration by March 24 an were on territory but without a nest during a mid April aerial survey.By late April or early May they were reported nesting. Like all but one of this season’s first nests, this pair’s first nest failed. They were reported with a second nest and two eggs, but this nest failed shortly after the June 4 survey flight. On June 5 Eva reported both cranes were off the nest and both eggs were gone; they hatched no chicks this summer.

Fall 2013: Male #24-09 wintered in the area of Hopkins County, Kentucky with mate #42-09 DAR and several other cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on February 12, 2014:

Spring 2014: Crane #24-09 with #42-09 DAR and pair #34-09 DAR and #1-10 began migration from their wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 22-24 March. They arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois, by roost on 26 March and completed migration to Wisconsin on 29/30 March. Male #42-09 #24-09 nested with #42-09 in Adams County and on May 13 tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed that the pair hatched chicks #W4-14 and #W5-14!

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2014: Adult pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR migrated to Hopkins County, Kentucky by Nov. 21, where they associated with several other Whooping Cranes at that wintering location.

Spring 2015: Male #24-09 returned to Adams County, Wisconsin with mate #42-09 DAR and nested, but their nest failed; no chicks for this pair this spring.

Fall 2015: Crane #24-09 and his mate #42-09 DAR wintered in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR returned north and nested in April. The first nest failed but they nested again in early June and hatched #W23-16 on June 28. This June photo shows him guarding after she settles down on the nest to incubate an egg. Unfortunately, their chick did not survive long.

Fall 2016: It was hoped pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR would become allo-parents to two parent-reared colts released near them in Adams County in September, and would lead the young on migration. Unfortunately, the adult pair did not stay around long. Then, on Nov. 15 after a 20-day absence, male #24-09 and his mate finally reappeared to spend time with the young PR #29-16 and PR #39-16, arriving just as the weather turned snowy and windy. They succeeded in getting the colts to roost in the wetland a few nights, but not in following south. It appears that the adults may have left on migration Nov. 20. They were reported in Hopkins County, Kentucky, in December.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR had returned north and were nesting by early April. Their chick, #W3-17, hatched the first week in May! The chick was still doing well with her parents when spotted from the air on May 25.

Photo: Bev Paulan, WI DNR

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Crane #25-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 29, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/white/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: When #25-09 swam in the pool for the first time, she craned her neck all the way forward and kicked for all she was worth to reach the end of the pool. She likes swimming! She didn’t do as well following the trike, and on June 12 she got extra tutoring time because she wasn’t following too well.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15 and #25-09 did beautifully. All of the chicks followed the trike and paid no attention to one another. Chick #25-09 made good progress as the days passed.

Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

She came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats when they reached the end of the runway. They weren’t flying yet but the end of July, but making progress. Go, Cohort 3! By mid August, all of cohort 3, with the exception of #31-09, were starting to fly in ground effect.

Erin calls #25-09 a great little bird, and very curious. She soon became a good flier and good follower. She is very submissive. On health check day in September, Erin tells how #25-09 charmed her: I was in the pen on the side with the birds who had not yet had their health checks. Chick #25-09 was standing by me as I absent-mindedly dangled the sleeve of my costume, swinging it slowly back and forth like a clock pendulum. I soon noticed that curious #25-09 was watching and her head was swinging back and forth in perfect timing with my sleeve, like she was being hypnotized. I was glad when Bev looked our way and saw it too, and we later had a good laugh over it.

Female #25-09 is submissive within her cohort. After the Cohort 2 and 3 birds were joined in to one group, #25-09 and #14-09 (also submissive in her cohort), had stare-downs with each other. It’s as if these two submissive females were arguing about who is the most submissive!

First Migration South: Chick #25-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. Chicks #25-09 and #5-09 both landed back at one of the old pens on Necedah NWR. In a surprise move when the winds calmed in late afternoon, pilots tried to get these two birds to follow the ultralights to join up with other chicks who had landed at a second old pen site on Necedah. The two birds did so well that the pilots kept going—all the way to the migration’s first stopover site. Cranes #25-09 and #5-09 finished the day with the other five flockmates that made it to stop #1 earlier in the day. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #25-09 below.

Oct. 27: Crane #25-09 dropped out of the flight to Stopover #2 and landed in a cornfield. She was “lost” until searchers on land and in the air located her. They lured her into a crate and she finished this leg of the journey in the van.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #25-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #25-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #25-09 flew all but 12 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!”

Fall 2010: Remained in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes she had been with all summer and a few others. She and #8-09, #11-09, #15-09, #18-09, and #29-09 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29. The five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. The older cranes came back to the pen site periodically but they picked on the smaller and younger #25-09 and #29-09. The troublemakers were driven off but the caretakers let #35-09 and #29-09 hang around the pen with the five chicks during the winter. The two were no threat to the younger birds.

Sometimes 25-09 and 29-09 hog the feeding station! Photo: Operation Migration

Spring 2011: On March 21, the first day of spring, #25-09 and #29-09 began migration from the St. Marks pensite, taking two males (#1-10 and #8-10) from the class of 2010 with them! Data from their GPS transmitters indicated that they made it to Macon County, Alabama, nearly 200 miles to the north and right on course. GPS data from #1-10 indicates that on the night of March 24th, he had made it to Jackson County, AL in the northeast portion of the state, but it was not known if older cranes #25-09 and #29-09 and classmate #8-10 were still with him. Then, on March 30, crane #29-09 was detected on Necedah NWR and at Horicon NWR in Dodge County, on April 1.

Fall 2011: Crane #25-09 spent winter in Greene County, Indiana with #18-09.

Spring 2012: Female #25-09 was reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16, with #29-09. ICF tracker Eva saw #18-09 and #25-09 with an egg May 2 but the pair never incubated the egg: No chicks for this pair in summer 2012.

Fall 2012: Female #25-09 was captured Oct. 24 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her original band colors remain the same.

Spring 2013: Female #25-09 was reported back on Necedah NWR on March 29, with #18-09.

Fall 2013: #25-09, with mate #4-08, began migration from Necedah NWR 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: Female #25-09 was reported back on Necedah NWR on March 29 and mate #4-08 was with her. The pair nested and the nest was still active when checked on April 30 but failed in May when the pair parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Female #25-09 was now paired with male #2-04 and they didn’t raise a chick this summer but on September 22, parent-reared chick #27-14 was released near the pair in hopes they would foster the chick and lead her on migration this fall. They did, and the adults and the chick left Necedah on Oct. 31 and migrated to Hopkins County, Kentucky. They were joined there by Nov. 21 by #24-09 and #42-09, plus #1-10 and #W1-06 in early December. The new family spent the winter there and the chick did well.

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

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

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

Fall 2016: Pair #25-09 and #2-04 were still in Juneau County, WI at the end of October in an unusually mild autumn. They migrated in December to Hopkins County, Kentucky.

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

Adult whooping cranes 2-04 & 25-09 with their two chicks: W16-17 & W17-17 (Photo: Bev Paulan, WI DNR)

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Crane #26-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 3, 2009
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: By June 12, #26-09 was doing great at following the trike in circle pen training. She went half of a lap before the heat of the summer day got too bad. But she developed leg problems. Would she even be able to continue training and go to Wisconsin with the Class of 2009? Yes, they agreed to give her a chance. Good luck, #26-09!

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15 and #26-09 did just great. All of the chicks followed the trike and paid no attention to one another.

Photo, Bev Paulan, OM

She trained well as the days passed. She came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats when they reached the end of the runway. These youngest birds weren’t flying yet but the end of July, but making progress. By mid August, all of cohort 3, with the exception of #31-09, were starting to fly in ground effect. By the end of August she was airborne with the others, slowly building up her flying time and strength.

Oct. 11: The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. The birds would be closer to their first migration stopover. But several wayward birds had other plans! Female #26-09 was one of them. She was on the runway in front of her old pen when Erin arrived to put her back in the pen. She spent the night there. along with the other 10 birds who had also come back or didn’t want to leave. The other 9 flockmates were at the travel pen at the farther site on the refuge. What a day!

First Migration South: Chick #26-09 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 16, 2009. She was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site! Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #26-09 below.

Oct. 27: She did it again: followed the ultralight to Stopover #2 with no problems! She was one of only 7 to do so. Yay, #26-09! 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #26-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane #26-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the “St. Marks 10:” #6-09, #8-09, #10-09, #11-09, #12-09, #14-09, #15-09, #18-09, #25-09, and #26-09! Crane #26-09 flew every single mile of this migration without being crated even once.

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #8-09, she (and probably #15-09, #10-09, #11-09, #14-09, #18-09, #25-09 and #26-09) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to the Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #15-09 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!” HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Cranes #26-09 and #27-06 DAR were found in Grundy County, Illinois, during an aerial survey on December 2. They were detected flying through western Kentucky on December 6 and reported at Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, on December 8.

Spring 2011: Crane #26-09, still with #27-06 DAR, was on her winter territory until at least the morning of March 2. The two were not found there on March 3, but were reported back at Necedah NWR by March 10. They were observed building a nest in May. No chicks.

Fall 2011: Crane #26-09, with her mate #27-06 DAR, migrated to Alabama’s Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and spent winter there.

Spring 2012: Crane#26-09 and her mate #27-06 DAR were detected arriving back at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete!

Fall 2012: Migrated south with mate #27-06 DAR and wintered at Wheeler NWR, Alabama.

Spring 2013: The pair #26-09 and #27-06 DAR was detected on spring migration in Gibson County, Indiana on March 5, where they stayed at least through March 9 morning. The signal of Crane #26-09 was detected March 17 on Necedah NWR and it was assumed that her mate #27-06 DAR probably completed migration with her and the pair may have moved off the frozen ponds to a more hospitable location. By late April or early May the pair had a nest together but it failed in early May. The pair did not attempt a second nest this summer.

Fall 2013: Migrated south to Wheeler NWR in Alabama with mate #27-06 DAR.

Spring 2014: Crane pair #26-09 & #27-06 DAR, along with #3-11, #4-11, #17-11, #19-11 and DAR #38-09 began migration from the Wheeler NWR in Alabama on 15-18 February. This large group was reported in Gibson County, Indiana, on 21 February. They then moved to Lawrence County, Illinois, by the next day and were seen with an eighth (and unknown) bird that tracker Eva believes that might be #26-10 DAR. On March 21, #26-09 and #27-06 completed migration to Necedah NWR. By mid April this pair had a nest with one egg, but the nest had failed when checked April 30.

Fall 2014: Female #26-09 left the Necedah area with mate #27-06 DAR sometime after Oct. 24. They wintered again at Wheeler NWR, Alabama.

Spring 2015: Female #26-09 returned from spring migration with her mate #27-06 DAR, arriving on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin March 14 or 15. The pair’s first eggs were removed on April 16 in the forced renesting program, but their second nest of the season hatched one chick on June 8, but the chick did not survive the month.

Spring 2016: Female #26-09 returned from spring migration with her mate #27-06 DAR, and the pair was observed on a nest on May 19 and still nesting on June 7. Their new chick, #W22-16, hatched on June 10 but did not survive into the summer.

Fall 2016: Female #26-09 and mate #27-06 DAR left Juneau County, WI and had migrated to Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama by the end of December.

Spring 2017: Pair #26-09 and #27-06 DAR returned to Necedah NWR and were nesting by early April.

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Crane #27-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 5, 2009
Legbands: Left: red/green/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Little #27-09 was introduced to the trike engine for the first time on June 12. He was so afraid of being in the circle pen that the “costumes” Bev and Brooke) just let him eat meal worms while hearing the comforting brood call over the loudspeaker on the trike. Brooke spun the propeller and pushed the trike back and forth — but just these small movements sent #27-09 peeping like a baby! They settled with just walking him around the pen.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15 and #27-09 did beautifully. All of the chicks followed the trike and paid no attention to one another.

Photo, Bev Paulan, OM

In the coming days, #27-09 always came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats when they reached the end of the runway. These youngest birds weren’t flying yet but the end of July, but making progress. Go, Cohort 3!

By mid August, all of cohort 3, with the exception of #31-09, were starting to fly in ground effect. The team noticed that #27-09 had a swollen hock (leg joint), but it seemed to get better as the days passed. The cohort was flying brief, short circles in the air over the training field. This chick picked on #29-09 in the early part of the summer. That tapered off as they learned to fly better and better. The weather allowed training almost every day, so these youngest chicks will be ready for migration.

Each day they get de-worming medicine in a grape given to them by the puppet. Chick #27-09 is one of the birds who takes off for the swamp to wash that grape before eating it. The handlers have to watch closely to be sure he gets his meds. The capsule floats if it falls out of the grape, and the puppet is quick to play with the capsule until the chick gets curious and grabs it to swallow.

The team worried about #27-09 getting picked on when the middle and youngest cohorts spent their first night together without a fence dividing them, but he did just fine!

First Migration South: Chick #27-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #27-09 below.

Oct. 17: Chick #27-09 was one of the four who flew with Richard from the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1 to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #27-09! 

Oct. 27: On today’s flight crane #27-09 (and several others) didn’t follow well. They turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! #27-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed! Now we can expect more of this. They are getting stronger and more confident!

Nov. 5: For the third flight in a row, ALL 20 birds made the whole flight today! They are gaining strength and confidence. Bev now says #27-09 is not the baby, but certainly looks like it. “I always know where he is because he is still mostly brown. Very few white feathers have grown in, and he still looks very baby-like. He is also one of the quiet ones. Rarely do we hear him peep. He goes about his daily business quietly, almost shyly.”

Nov. 16: From her post at the CraneCam, Heather saw this little story take place in the pen one morning on a down-day. She’s not sure, but she thinks the main character might have been #27-09: “He was on a mission. Twice within a half hour, he approached another crane from behind and very casually waited till just the right moment. As soon as the other crane bent over to peck, poke or prod at something, he would very cautiously lean toward the target tush and strike! I couldn’t help but chuckle as he proceeded to prance oh so proudly away with a tail feather held valiantly in his beak.”

Nov 20: Crane #27-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

Nov 30: Crane #27-09 was one of the three birds who flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. He finished the trip to Stopover #9 traveling by road in a crate.

January 3: (Day 72) Today’s rough climb to get up to smoother air was too much for #27-09 and he dropped out. Trackers found him and boxed him up for the drive back to the pen after the rest of the flock turned back with the pilot.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #27-09 flew all but 26 miles of this migration.

New leg bands! Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to #27-09’s leg bands. Both #27-09 and #3-09 have RGR bands, BUT the transmitter and bands are on opposite legs, making each bird’s code a unique and separate banding code. On which leg are #27-09’s RGR bands?

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 disappeared) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier then they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #34-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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 two groups. Both groups continued migration the next day (April 10) and the group of three (#13-09, #19-09 and #27-09) was tracked to Waukesha County, Wisconsin where they dropped out early, likely because the very strong winds from the west made it extremely difficult for them to keep going west. He has not been detected since then.

Spring 2011: Crane #27-09 was considered to have died after not being detected for over a year. He was removed from the official population in spring 2011.

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Crane #29-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 5, 2009
Legbands: Left: red/green/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: Little #29-09 was introduced to the trike for the first time on June 12. It was so scary for him that he dropped straight to the ground in a cowering position.

Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

 

When Bev and Brooke got him to stand up again, he ate an occasional mealworm, but he was shaking so much from fright that they decided to cut the session short and give him a break. He will get many more chances to get over his fear.

 

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15 and #29-09 did beautifully. All of the chicks followed the trike and paid no attention to one another.

This cohort has a wide age range so the older birds are much bigger than #28-09, #29-09 and #31-09. The trainers keep the three younger chicks together on one side of the pen, away from the bigger birds. They did well. Less than two weeks later, all of them came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats when they reached the end of the runway. These youngest birds weren’t flying yet at the end of July, but are making progress. Go, Cohort 3! By mid August he was starting to fly in ground effect, and by the end of the month he was flying well for short distances. He just needs to build up his flying time in the next weeks and he’ll be ready to migrate.

Photo: Bev Paulan, OM

Crane #29-09 got picked on by #27-09 in the early part of the summer, and maybe it made him a bit aggressive. By the end of August #29-09 had turned into the typical teenager. Big for his age, he likes to throw his weight around. Bev said he would be lippy if he could talk! But because he can’t talk, he uses his beak to boss others. He jabs hard at the puppet and doesn’t back down when the puppet is raised above his head to be taller and show dominance. He still tries to be tall. Once when he refused to back down and kept jabbing with his beak, Bev bumped him gently. He then stuck out both wings and stomped his feet at her! Later, when Bev was bending over to check another bird, the belligerent #29-09 jabbed her helmet so hard that Bev got a headache. Calm down, #29-09! Erin said on Sep. 19: “This bird is not a big fan of Bev or I, but I can now get #29-09 to back down by raising my puppet over his head and standing firm. Before, Bev had to interfere and help me.” Maybe #29-09 is learning his place!

Crane #29-09 is Bev’s old nemesis. By September he seemed to have lost his imagined grudge against her and never pecks hard. “He pecks at the puppet, at my costume, at my sleeve and my helmet.” He is still very small. This little chick’s dad is from a BIG Patuxent WRC whooper named Goliath, so maybe he’ll be much bigger some day.

First Migration South: Chick #29-09 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration’s first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock’s migration and read more about #29-09 below.

Oct. 17: Chick #29-09—the youngest—was one of the four who flew with Richard from the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1 to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #29-09! 

Oct. 27: Today chick #29-09 proved again that he’s a great follower as he flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard’s ultralight. 

Nov. 1: Hooray! #29-09 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed! Now we can expect more of this. They are gaining strength and confidence. Bev reminds us: “#29-09 is still one of the largest. He stills tries to stare me down, but has grown out of his obnoxious, beat-up-the-handler phase. Typical for his age, he has a very mottled look as he sheds his tan baby feathers and the new adult white ones come in.”

Nov 20: Crane #29-09 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn’t come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on course and led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the “Chass 10:” #1-09, #3-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09, and #29-09! Male #29-09 — the youngest of the 20 ultralight-led cranes —flew every single mile of this migration on his own wing power! Only three others in the Class of 2009 can boast that too. In fact, #29-09 was first to land at the Chass pen: “He dropped out right next to us— exactly what we wanted them ALL to do. But the other nine kept circling. Then #29-09 appeared to be getting anxious, peeping loudly and staring up at his still- circling classmates,” said Eva. “Matt and I tried distracting him with grapes but he still seemed distressed at being separated from the group. When he began leaning forward in pre-flight stances, I moved in front of him to block his path. But he eventually stretched his wings and took off, rejoining the group as they passed over our heads once again. They circled a few more times, then landed just outside the pen. It took a little while, but we were able to get them into the open pen and then into their temporary top-netted pen.”

Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to #29-09’s leg bands: “Typically, all the birds from one year have the same color VHF transmitter. But his year with 29 chicks there were not enough combinations within that series so one bird, #29-09, got an all-white VHF transmitter. This all-white VHF band is the first in a new series. This band makes #29-09 this year’s “odd duck,” but at least it’s easy for the trackers to identify him from all the other Chass birds.”

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#3-09 disappeared) with adult pair #5-01 and #1-05 were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, “It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise.”

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The “Chass 9” crane kids (#1-09, #4-09, #5-09, #7-09, #13-09, #19-09, #24-09, #27-09 and #29-09) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults #24-08, #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 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #7-09, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, 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, 327-08 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 migration the next day (April 10), when the group of eight made it home. Their signals were detected the next day, April 11, on Necedah NWR: migration complete! Crane #29-09 has not been detected since completing migration to the vicinity of Necedah NWR and landing at an undetermined roost location on 11 April.

Fall 2010: Remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes he had been with all summer and a few others. He and #8-09, #11-09, #15-09, #18-09, and #29-09 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically. Their locations while away from the pen have not been determined. He and #25-09 are both smaller than the others, and the bigger cranes picked on them. The two kept wanting to hang around the pen with the five chicks during the winter. They were no threat and were finally allowed to stay and not be driven off like the other more aggressive cranes.

Spring 2011: On March 21, the first day of spring, #29-0 and #25-09 began migration from the St. Marks pensite, taking two males (#1-10 and #8-10) from the class of 2010 with them! Data from their GPS transmitters indicated that they made it to Macon County, Alabama, nearly 200 miles to the north and right on course. GPS data from #1-10 indicates that on the night of March 24th, he had made it to Jackson County, AL in the northeast portion of the state, but is not known if older cranes #29-09 and #25-09 and classmate #8-10 are still with him. Then, on March 30, crane #29-09 was detected on Necedah NWR and at Horicon NWR in Dodge County, on April 1.

Fall 2011: Migrated and spent at least part of the winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Pair #29-09 and #25-09 were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16. ICF tracker Eva saw #29-09 and #25-09 with an egg May 2 but they never incubated the egg: No chicks for this pair in summer 2012.

Fall 2012: New pair #29-09 and mate #12-03 were detected at a usual migration stopover in Vigo County, Indiana on November 1.

Spring 2013: Male #29-09 was not detected with his mate #12-03 when she returned on March 28 to Necedah NWR, so either his signal is not working or he didn’t arrive with #12-03. In mid-April the female was seen alone, still without male #29-09.

Fall 2013: Male #29-09 was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. “We assume these are the same birds,” said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. “Based on band reports they are likely birds #12-09, #12-03/#29-09, #18-09/#35-09 and #10-09/#17-07, although not all have been confirmed yet.”

Spring 2014: Male #29-09 was observed on Necedah NWR on the same day his mate, female #12-03, was observed with another male. Tracker Eva reported that #29-09 also took a new mate, #4-11.

Fall 2014: Male #29-09 was captured by ICF trackers in Wisconsin Nov. 7 for transmitter replacement. He also received a completely new set of color codes on his bands (see at top of page). He migrated to Indiana, where he was seen in December with male #12-02 and his youngster #W3-14, as well as #11-04 and #19-10. This group left left Greene County, Indiana, and moved south to Lawrence County, Alabama, the first week in January. This group returned to Greene County, Indiana on February 7, 2015, where they remain.

Spring 2015: Male #29-09 had returned to Wood County, Wisconsin by March 26. He was reported with #12-03 and they nested. The eggs from the first nest were removed April 16 as part of the forced renesting effort, and #12-03 laid more eggs in a second nest. On June 8, Wisconsin DNR Pilot Bev Paulan photographed one chick with one of the parents but the chick did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Spent the winter in Knox County, Indiana

Spring 2016: Male #29-09 and mate #12-03 were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 30 aerial survey flight. Their first nest failed but they were sitting on a second nest on May 6. Chick #W7-16 hatched on May 24 and #W8-16 on May 25. Both chicks were still alive on the June 7 aerial survey but only #W7 survived and was flying short distances near its parents by Aug. 4 (photo). The chick was still alive in September, and by then was the single surviving chick of the 2016 breeding season. Unfortunately, #W7-16 was killed by a predator in October.

Fall 2016: Pair #29-09 and #12-03 migrated in November to Green County, Indiana.

Spring 2017: Male #29-09 and mate #12-03 were back in Wisconsin territory and nesting by early April. They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight.

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Crane #32-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 25, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #32-09 was the first DAR chick to hatch this year. She has been the dominant chick and terrified #33-09 several times when they were younger. We have been able to exercise the two oldest chicks together since they were over a month of age. They spent both days and nights together for a week and a half before they were transferred to Necedah NWR. Since the move to Necedah, it is more apparent that they tolerate each other, but they really haven’t become best buddies even though they spend all day and night together. They will go to each other for security if something scares them, but most of the time they are doing their own thing. She has a blue band on her right leg until permanent bands are attached before release on the refuge for fall migration.

By August 19, the oldest chick, #32-09, was gliding above the ground for 100 ft. or so. At first she did short flights so she could stick around the costume. Her flying attracts the attention of a nearby pair of adult Whooping cranes (#11-02 and #17-02) who fly over to see who is in the area. So far it has not been an issue of territory, but all the chicks are wary of the adult pair being close by. The first in the DAR group to fly, she was a strong flyer by the end of August.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: She was released at Site 3 on Necedah NWR on October 24 along with DAR #38-09. They roosted there that night and stayed in that area the rest of October. On November 1 they joined with all but two of the other DAR chicks and flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow the older adult cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Migration History:

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. Crane #6-05 and the seven 2009 DAR chicks were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky! They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: PTT signals from crane #32-09* (DAR) indicated completion of migration to the Necedah NWR area by the night of March 18. She was likely in a group containing #6-05, DAR #37-09 and DAR #40-09; they were confirmed with visuals and signals a few days later. They apparently left Muscatatuck NWR in Indiana on March 15 or 16 and reached Champaign County, Illinois and then finished the migration by the night of March 18. By mid April Eva said these three DAR females continued to follow male #6-05.

Fall 2010: Female #32-09 (DAR) migrated to Indiana again. She was reported at the Muscatatuck NWR in Jackson County, Indiana on February 7, 2011. She had last been reported with sandhills in Union County, Indiana, on January 1. In February she moved and was reported on a wildlife refuge in Jackson County on February 7 and stayed in the area.

Spring 2011: Female #32-09 (DAR) began migration March 3. She and #41-09 (DAR) were detected in flight near Necedah NWR on May 16 and returned to the Mill Bluff area of Monroe County, Wisconsin by May 21 and remained there.

Fall 2011: Female #32-09 and #41-09 (DAR) wintered in Jackson County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Pair #32-09 (DAR) and #41-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16. This new pair was observed sitting on a nesting platform during one flight in May, but were not observed there again. No eggs were ever confirmed so it wasn’t a confirmed nest.

Fall/Winter 2012-2013:

Spring 2013: Pair #32-09 (DAR) and mate #41-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 27! They were observed on a nest during Bev Paulan’s aerial survey April 16. The pair abandoned the nest but an egg was rescued and taken to ICF for incubation. The good news was the hatching of #3-13 on May 15th! This chick became part of the Class of 2013 for the ultralight-led fall migration.

Fall 2013: Crane#32-09 was found with a new mate! ICF tracker Eva had no sightings or word on #32-09 until January, when Eva discovered this female in Meigs County, TN, paired with male #5-05, who had been missing and suspected dead until this discovery. In more good news, parent-reared juvenile #22-13 was hanging around with this new pair, who seemed to have successfully adopted the young crane that was captive-born and released at Necedah in fall in hopes it would join up with an accepting mated pair to lead it on the migration route. This is a good sign that the chick will survive winter and return to Wisconsin in spring.Well done, #32-09 and new mate!

Spring 2014: Pair #32-09 DAR and #5-05 began migration from near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee, on February 17/18, and their “adopted” youngster, #22-13 was still with them. They were reported in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 18 and had arrived in Washington County, Indiana, by February 21. The pair was confirmed back at the Necedah NWR on March 28. By mid April this pair had a nest, which was still active when checked April 30, but they abandoned the nest in May.

Fall 2014: She was captured and given a new transmitter/colors on the left leg before migration. Left Necedah on October 29 and then left Rock County, WI on migration with #5-05 around mid November. They wintered at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2015: Female #32-09 (DAR) and mate #5-05 were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey. The pair’s first eggs were removed on April 16 in the forced renesting program, but their second nest produced chick #W15-15 on June second, shown here on June 8. The chick did not survive the month.

Photo: Bev Paulan, WI DNR

Fall 2015: Wintered at Goose Pond in Greene County, IN.

Spring 2016: Female #32-09 (DAR) was observed back on territory at Necedah on March 30 by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan. She was now with #8-10.

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

Spring 2017: New pair with female #32-09 (DAR) and mate #7-07 returned to Necedah NWR and were nesting for the first time together by April 5! They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight. Later in the season, #32-09 was observed associating with male #19-10. 

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Crane #34-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 15, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: white/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #34-09 hatched from an egg provided to the DAR project by USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. Being the first of the chicks in this block, #34-09 was fairly aggressive when younger. Recently we have been able to exercise #34, #36 and #38-09 together. Until the permanent bands are attached, Chick #34-09 has double red bands on her right leg.

She was flying well by the end of August, along with most of the DAR chicks, and doing just great.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. Some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Fall 2009: DAR #35-09 and #34-09 were released together on the west end of Pool 9 near adult #9-05. They roosted that night at this location with adults #3-03, #17-03, and #9-05. On October 28 they joined the other DAR juveniles at Site 3 and East Rynearson Pool (ERP) and remained in that general area. On November 1 they joined all DAR juveniles (except for two) and flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes south to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. Crane #6-05 and the seven 2009 DAR chicks were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky! They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: Cranes #6-05 and youngsters DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. Juveniles #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, and #41-09 remained at Muscatatuck NWR at least until April 1 and were detected in Juneau or Adams County (MIGRATION COMPLETE) during an aerial survey on April 5.

Fall 2010: Migrating females #34-09 (DAR) and #35-09 (DAR) departed from Muscatatuck NWR in Indiana during 6-9 December. They wandered and it is not known where they spent the winter.

Spring 2011: Females #34-09 (DAR) and #35-09 (DAR) wintered at an unknown location and were back at Jennings County, Indiana /Muscatatuck NWR on a migration stopover on March 19. They were gone by April 4. They were next reported in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, on 5 and 6 April and in Dane Co, WI on 8 April. On 12 April the signal of #34-09 was detected west of Wisconsin Rapids during an aerial survey flight, but her signal was not tracked. (Her companion, #35-09, was detected on/near Necedah NWR on 13 April.)

Fall 2011: Female #34-09 and #38-09 — unknown wintering location. These two had not yet turned up as of Feb. 13 (last detected in Knox/Davies County, Indiana).

Spring 2012: Crane #34-09 (DAR) and #38-09 (DAR) were detected on Necedah NWR on March 23.

Fall 2012: Wintered in Gibson County, IN

Spring 2013: Female #34-09 (DAR) and her mate #38-09 (DAR) split on or before spring migration and she is now back in Wisconsin with #1-10 (who had recently split from #W1-10).

Fall 2013: Female #34-09 (DAR) wintered in the area of Hopkins County, Kentucky with #1-10 and several other cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on February 12, 2014:

Spring 2014: Crane #34-09 DAR, with #1-10 and #24/#42-09, began migration from their wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky, around March 22-24. They arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois, by roost on March 26th and completed migration to Wisconsin on 29/30 March.

Fall 2014: Crane #34-09 DAR, now paired with #4-08 after her previous mate (#10-03) died in October, left the Necedah area on migration November 12. They wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

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

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

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

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

Spring 2017: Crane #34-09 DAR and mate #4-08 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 #35-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 15, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: DAR #35-09 and #36-09 are offspring of birds at ICF. DAR #35-09 has been a bit aggressive and still was not able to be exercised with another chick when we left for Necedah NWR on July 21. On July 22 we tried her in a group of 3 birds (DAR #34, #36 & #38). There was very little squabbling and these four are now exercising together all the time. DAR #35-09 and #37-09 still seem to be in competition with each other. DAR #35-09 is banded blue over white on the left leg.

She was doing really well and flying well by the end of August.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: DAR #34-09 and #35-09 were released together on the west end of Pool 9 near adult #9-05. They roosted that night at this location with adults #3-03, #17-03, and #9-05. On October 28 they joined the other DAR juveniles at Site 3 and East Rynearson Pool (ERP) and remained in that general area. On November 1 they joined all DAR juveniles (except for two) and flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes south to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes (particularly #6-05 and #13-07).

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. Crane #6-05 and the seven 2009 DAR chicks were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: DAR #35-09, along with cranes #6-05 and other DAR youngsters #32-09, #34-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 began migration together but later separated into two groups. Juveniles #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, and #41-09 remained at Muscatatuck NWR at least until April 1 and were detected in Juneau or Adams County for the summer.

Fall 2010: Migrating females #35-09 (DAR) and #34-09 (DAR) departed from Muscatatuck NWR in Indiana during 6-9 December. They wandered and it is not known where they spent the winter.

Spring 2011: Females #35-09 (DAR) and #34-09 (DAR) wintered at an unknown location and were back at Jennings County, Indiana /Muscatatuck NWR on a migration stopover on March 19 through April 4. They were next reported in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, on April 5 and 6, then in Dane County, Wisc. on 8 April 8. Crane #35-09 (DAR) was detected on/near Necedah NWR on April 13.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #6-09 and spent the winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: She was detected in flight headed north over ICF headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin on March 15 with #6-09. Close to home!

Fall/Winter 2012- 2013: Wintered in Green County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: If bands were reported correctly, Crane #35-09 (DAR) was among three adult whoopers reported March 26 in a reclaimed wetland area of an Illinois quarry. “They have been loafing and feeding in the same area of the wetland for at least the last 2 days,” reported the observer. Their current location is 4 miles from the Livingston Co., IL stopover site of the ultralight-led migration south for male #6-09, one of the birds in the trio. Perhaps he’s the leader of their journey north? The third bird is #27-10 (DAR). The three completed migration to Necedah NWR March 29! By late April or early May cranes #35-09 DAR and #6-09 were reported nesting—but abandoned their nest in early May when a large outbreak of black flies may have been the reason for several other crane nests also being abandoned. The pair did not hatch any chicks this summer

Fall/Winter 2013- 2014: Female #35-09 (DAR) was captured in September and trackers replaced both of her nonfunctional transmitters. Her new band colors appear at the top of this page, replacing the originals. She was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. Her signal was detected in Greene County, Indiana, during an aerial survey flight on February 12. Sad news came when conservation officers found her partially buried remains from this location on Feb. 19. Cause of death was a gunshot—making her the fourth gunshot Whooping crane in Indiana.

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Crane #36-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 15, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #36-09 is a tall, lanky chick with a mild disposition. Even though she is almost twice the size of #38-09, #36-09 has been tolerant of DAR #38-09, who was housed in the adjacent run/pen section at ICF. At ICF the two of them had been exercising, foraging and hanging out in the chick yard together for a few weeks. When the chicks were moved from ICF to nearby Necedah NWR on July 21, these two ended up sharing a run. They are doing extremely well together. Chick #36-09 has a green band on her left leg.

By mid-August, #36-09 had become the most aggressive chick in the group. However, sometimes she got put in her place by #37-09. She was a good flyer by the end of August but picked on the two youngest chicks when their protective buddy was kept apart from them due to a leg injury.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days they birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and someof the flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: DAR #36-09 and #37-09 were released together on northeastern Sprague Pool near adults #11-03 and #12-03. That night #36-09 flew to roost on Goose Pool. Her radio signals indicated she may have joined with adults #8-04 and #19-05. On Oct. 27, DAR #36-09 and #37-09 left Sprague Pool and joined their other DAR flockmates who had gathered at Site 3/ERP. But #36-09 separated from this group on October 29 and began associating with adults #10-03, #W1-06, #12-04, #1-01, DAR #27-05, flockmate DAR #42-09 and sandhill cranes. By Nov. 9 she and #42-09 had been roosting off the refuge, likely with older Whooping cranes (the older cranes have non-functional radio transmitters). Will she soon follow the older cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope she will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-06, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. The seven 2009 DAR chicks and #6-05 were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky! They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: DAR youngsters #36-09, #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, 37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1 along with adult #6-05. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. DAR Juveniles #36-09, #34-09, #35-09, and #41-09 remained at Muscatatuck NWR at least until April 1 and were detected in Juneau or Adams County, Wisconsin, during an aerial survey April 5— FIRST SOLO MIGRATION COMPLETE!

Fall 2010: Female #36-09 DAR began migration with #13-07 from the Mill Bluff State Park area in Wisconsin’s Monroe County on November 25 or 26. Her signal was detected at Hiwassee WR, Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, on the morning of December 14. On Feb. 5, 2011 she was reported at her previous wintering location at Jefferson County, Kentucky but was no longer seen there after the morning of February 6. She was reported at Armstrong Bend, Meigs County, Tennessee, on February 12 and stayed at least through February 14.

Spring 2011: She apparently left her previous wintering location in Jefferson County, Kentucky, on the morning of February 6 and was reported at Meigs County, Tennessee, on February 12. She remained there at least through February 14 but was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on the evening of March 3. She stayed there at least until March 5. She was detected in flight over Sauk County, Wisconsin, on March 29 and had completed migration by April 3, when she was detected on Necedah NWR. She paired up with “divorced” male #18-03.

Fall 2011: Female #36-09 DAR wintered in Greene County with her new mate #18-03.

Spring 2012: Returned to Necedah NWR with mate #18-03. They were nesting in April! On the April 26 survey flight, it appeared from photos that the nest was empty. There were no chicks for this pair in summer 2012.

Fall/Winter 2012-2013: She is on the right, photographed in Greene County, Indiana with mate #18-03. They are on the Goode Pond Fish and Wildlife Area consists of over 8,000 acres of prairie and marsh habitat.

Photo: Stephen Smith

Spring 2013: Female #36-09 (DAR) and her mate #18-03 completed migration March 30. By late April or early May they were reported nesting. The nest failed in early May, along with many other nests, when a black fly outbreak likely caused many of the crane pairs to be tormented off their nests.

Fall 2013: Female #36-09 (DAR) and mate #18-03 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, where they were last reported on January 26.

Spring 2014: and Crane #36-09 DAR and mate #18-03 completed migration to Necedah NWR by 4 April. The pair nested, but the nest became flooded and failed.

Fall 2014: She was captured and given a new transmitter/colors on the left leg before migration. She and male #18-03 departed on migration from the Necedah area around Oct. 18. They wintered again in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Pair #36-09 DAR and #18-03 successfully migrated back to Wisconsin and nested early. By mid May they were parents of a new chick, named #W5-15! Look closely and you’ll see the chick: Unfortunately, the chick did not survive.

Photo: Bev Paulan, WI DNR

Fall 2015: Pair #36-09 DAR and #18-03 were confirmed in Greene County, Indiana by November 13, having migrated from Wisconsin sometime in the previous two weeks. Several other whoopers from the eastern flock were also there.

Spring 2016: The signal of crane #36-09 DAR was heard on a March 30 aerial survey by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan. Sure enough, she and her mate #18-03 returned and nested. The first nest failed and they were observed on a renest May 6 and chick #W15-16 hatched May 28. The chick did not survive the summer

Fall 2016: According to the legbands reported October 11, pair #36-09 DAR and mate #18-03 are the first pair confirmed on their winter territory: Greene County, Indiana. This is the earliest report of Whooping Cranes in Greene County since the beginning of the reintroduction.

Spring 2017: Crane #36-09 DAR and her mate #18-03 returned to their Wisconsin territory on Necedah NWR in early April and nested right away. They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan’s May 12 flight. #W6-17 was observed May 25 and was off the nest, so it probably hatched about May 21.

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Crane #37-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 16, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: red/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #37-09 has enjoyed food from day one and is growing like a weed. Due to her weight gain, she has been limit-fed and exercised by a swimming routine for several weeks. She is also an aggressive bird so we give her extra exercise on her own. After moving from ICF to nearby Necedah NWR on July 21, she calmed down some. We hope it will take only a few days for her to outgrow her aggression enough to be put with other chicks. We have started short exercise sessions with four of the other DAR chicks but #37-09 and #35-09 still seem to be in competition with each other. Chick #37-09 has a yellow band on her left leg.

By the end of August #37-09 was a good flyer with the other DAR cranes (except the youngest one). She sometimes harassed the two youngest when their protective buddy #39-09 was not around to chase them off.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: DAR #37-09 was released with DAR #36-09 on northeastern Sprague Pool near adult cranes #11-03 and #12-03. DAR #37-09 then roosted near or on a large sandhill crane roost on eastern Sprague Pool while #36-09 flew away to roost on another pool. But the two joined the other DAR birds at Site 3/ERP on October 27. On November 1 #37-09 joined all the other DAR juveniles (except #36-09 and #42-09) as they flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes to learn their migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara.The seven 2009 DAR chicks and #6-05 were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: Cranes #6-05 and youngsters DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. PTT data for #32-09 (DAR) indicated a roost location for her and presumably #6-05, #37-09 (DAR), and #40-09 (DAR) in Champaign County, Illinois. On March 18 PTT data confirmed #32-09 back at Necedah, PTT signals from crane #32-09* (DAR) indicated completion of migration to the Necedah NWR area by the night of March 18 and male #6-05, DAR #37-09 and DAR #40-09 were confirmed with visuals and signals a few days later. By mid April Eva said these three DAR females continued to follow male #6-05.

Fall 2010: Female #37-09 (DAR) remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15. She and #32-09* (DAR) were detected in flight from Owen County, Indiana, on November 26. She was then reported Cherokee County, Alabama at least until January 8. Trackers reported her in Madison County, Alabama at least through February 14 along with cranes #25-10 (DAR) and #27-10 (DAR), and they had been joined by pair #11-02/#30-08 and young #19-10 (DAR).

Spring 2011: Left Madison County, Alabama sometime between Feb. 18-22 in a group with #11-02 and #30-08 and #19-10 (DAR), #25-10 (DAR) and #27-10 (DAR). They were reported in Crawford County, IL on March 8-10 and Mar. 14. Minus the pair #11-02/#30-08, the group was still there March 16 and completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 21. Back at Necedah for the summer, she paired up with male #6-05.

Fall 2011: Female #37-09 (DAR) wintered in Jackson County, Indiana with her new mate #6-05. After he was shot dead in late December 2011, she stayed a short time by February 3, 2012, she had moved to Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: She was detected in flight headed north over ICF headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin on March 15. She returned to the old territory she had shared with male 6-05’s territory near the Necedah NWR and was joined there by male #8-10 (who had wintered in Madison County, Florida) in late April.

Fall 2012: She migrated south with #8-10 in November and wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: Female #37-09 DAR was confirmed back on Necedah March 31 but likely arrived on or by March 30, with her mate #8-10. Sadly, on May 12 tracker Eva Szyszkoski found and collected her remains from her summering territory in Juneau County. “Based on tracking records, she died between late May 8 and early May 9,” reported Eva.

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Crane #38-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 17, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green/red/white

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #38-09 seemed to be needier than the other chicks in his first weeks after hatching at ICF. He cried if he was left in the run and not able to be with “the costume” in the yard. Unfortunately, he developed a mild health issue that needed to be treated twice a day. Each time he was picked up for treatment, the chick would struggle and stress call. If he was in the yard, he calmed down and stayed near the costume, appearing to be quite content. He and #36-09 are sharing the same run now that they are at Necedah NWR. He is banded red on the right leg.

He was doing very well and close to flying by the end of August.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

Crane DAR #38-09 was released at Site 3 on Necedah NWR on October 24 along with DAR #32-09. The two stayed in that area the rest of October. On November 1 they joined with all but two of the other DAR chicks and flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties. Are they getting restless? Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: DAR #38-09 began migration Nov. 26 with several other Whooping cranes that migrated as a group before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. On Nov. 27 he resumed migrating with pairs #16-02 and #16-07 and #12-05 and #22-07. They were reported at a stopover site in Knox County, Indiana, on November 28. DAR #38-09 remained with six adult Whooping Cranes in Knox County, Indiana for the winter.

Spring 2010, First Migration North: Male #38-09 (DAR) left on his first northward migration on March 17 with adult crane pairs #16-02/#16-07 and #12-05/#22-07. His signal was detected at Necedah NWR on March 22! By April 20 he’d been spending time up in Marathon County, WI. Said Eva, “He was likely kicked out of the group that he spent the winter with because they were all breeding pairs.”

Fall 2010: Migrated and wintered in Hamilton County, Tennessee with #6-09 and #6-05.

Spring 2011: The group with #38-09 (DAR), #6-09 and #6-05 left Hamilton County, TN sometime between Feb. 25 and 27. They were reported back in the Necedah NWR area by March 21.

Fall 2011: No reports

Spring 2012: Male #38-09 (DAR), with female #34-09 (DAR) detected on Necedah NWR on March 23.

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Male #38-09 (DAR) split with his mate #34-09 (DAR) and he is now back in Wisconsin with #23-10 (who had split from #37-07 during spring migration).

Fall 2013: Migrated with crane #26-10 to Wheeler NWR in Alabama, arriving sometime before January 21.

Spring 2014: DAR #38-09 began migration from the Wheeler NWR in Alabama on February 15-18 along with Cranes #19-11, #3-11, #4-11, #17-11, and pair #26-09 /#27-06. This large group was reported in Gibson County, Indiana, on February 21. They then moved to Lawrence County, Illinois, by the next day and were seen with an eighth (and unknown) bird, whom tracker Eva believed might be #26-10. By April 9, #38-09 had not yet been confirmed back at Necedah NWR but he has a nonfunctional transmitter and all the other birds that he was known to be traveling with through Illinois had all returned to Neceda NWR.

Fall 2014: DAR #38-09 migrated in November to Knox County, Indiana with #3-11 and #24-13. They remained and associated with several other eastern flock Whooping Cranes at this location during the winter.

Spring 2015: Male DAR #38-09 migrated back to Juneau County, WI.

Fall 2015: DAR #38-09 migrated to Morgan County, Alabama for early winter, then moved up to Greene County, Indiana for the second half of winter.

Spring 2016: DAR #38-09 was seen back in Juneau County, Wisconsin, in April but wandered all summer back and forth between Greene County, Indiana and Juneau County, Wisconsin.

Fall 2016: DAR #38-09 migrated to Greene Co, IN and then to Morgan County, Alabama by the end of December.

Spring 2017: On February #18-19, male #38-09 DAR began northward migration from Wheeler NWR in north Alabama with #6-15. They were next in Greene County, Indiana and before April 1 had returned to Juneau County, WI.

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Crane #40-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 18, 2009
Legbands: Left: green/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #40-09 is a mild mannered and very independent little crane. She is happy to be foraging for herself, eating any purple flowers she can find, and walking the banks of the ponds in the chick yards. She is an avid eater. She grew quickly, which resulted in her legs growing inward to help support her heavy weight. Even though she was exercised and fed to the daily limit, she still gained more than 15% of her body weight a day. She was on a swimming routine to help her lose weight and, we hope, help her legs grow straighter. She has a pink band on the right leg.

By the first of September, #40-09 was flying!

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: DAR #40-09 was released at ERP on the refuge along with DAR #41-09 and #42-09. They roosted together there the first night, but returned to Site 3 the next day and joined DAR #32-09 and #38-09. They were later joined there by their other flockmates. On November 1 all DAR juveniles (except #36-09 and #42-09) flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. The seven 2009 DAR chicks and #6-05 were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: Cranes #6-05 and youngsters DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. PTT data for #32-09 (DAR) indicated a roost location for her and presumably #6-05, #37-09 (DAR), and #40-09 (DAR) in Champaign County, Illinois. On March 18 PTT data confirmed #32-09 back at Necedah, and #6-05, DAR #37-09 and DAR #40-09 were visually confirmed a few days later. Migration complete! By mid April Eva said these three DAR females continued to follow male #6-05.

Crane #40-09 (DAR) was euthanized on August 16, 2010 due to a severely dislocated left hip that caused her much pain and was not healing. She had been reported with an injured left leg in the Mill Bluff area near Necedah NWR on August 1. She was captured and transported to Necedah NWR for care and treatment at Necedah NWR, but she suffered and did not get better.

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Crane #41-09

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: June 21, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green/white/green

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #41-09 is like a little brother, tagging along and doing what the older kids (DAR #39-09 and #40-09) do. He and #40-09 got along well fairly early in life, mainly because #40-09 was so independent. #41-09 would stay with the costume and #40-09 followed at a distance. The dynamics changed when #39-09 was socialized with these two. Then DAR #41-09 became the tag-along when #39-09 and #41-09 started hanging out together more. DAR #41-09 still gets into small squabbles with #39-09 but is smart enough to call “uncle” early so no one gets hurt. DAR #41-09 has a yellow band on the right leg.

By the first of September, #41-09 was flying! Also, we have started taking all but injured #39-09 out together in the morning as well as the afternoon. Chick #41-09 & #42-09 have been harrassed a little more by the older chicks now that #39-09 isn’t able to “protect” his buddies.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Fall 2009: DAR #41-09 was released at ERP on the refuge with DAR #40-09 and #42-09. They roosted together there the first night, but returned to Site 3 the next day and joined DAR #32-09 and #38-09. Other flockmates later joined them. On November 1 all DAR juveniles (except #36-09 and #42-09) flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?

They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09, and #41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes (most particularly #6-05 and #13-07.

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that’s when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, “there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week.” Those birds were adult pair #7-03 and #26-07, two single males (#6-05 and #13-07) and seven of this year’s nine DAR chicks: #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, #37-09, #40-09 and #41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, “When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside.” The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.

On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. “Adult male #6-05 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” said tracker Sara. The seven 2009 DAR chicks and #6-05 were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.

Spring 2010: Cranes #6-05 and youngsters DAR #32-09, #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, 37-09, #40-09 and #41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. Juveniles #34-09, #35-09, #36-09, and #41-09 remained at Muscatatuck NWR at least until April 1 and were detected in Juneau or Adams County (MIGRATION COMPLETE) during an aerial survey on April 5.

Fall 2010: The radio signals of crane # 41-09 (DAR) and #12-09 were detected at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida) on December 5. Crane #24-09, who has a weak transmitter, is probably still traveling with them. No further news until March 18, 2011!

Spring 2011: “We don’t know where in Florida they wintered,” reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #12-09, #24-09 and #41-09 (DAR) stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn’t leave until 20 March. Return date isn’t exactly known but he was detected in flight near Necedah NWR on May 16 with female #32-09 (DAR) as they returned from Necedah NWR to the Mill Bluff area of Monroe County, Wisconsin by May 21 and remained there.

Fall 2011: Male #41-09 (DAR) wintered in Jackson County, Indiana with mate #32-09 (DAR).

Spring 2012: Pair #41-09 (DAR) and mate #32-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16! This new pair was observed sitting on a nesting platform during one flight in May, but were not observed there again. No eggs were ever confirmed so it wasn’t a confirmed nest.

Fall/Winter 2012: Jackson County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: Pair #41-09 (DAR) and mate #32-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 27! By mid April they were observed on a nest. They abandoned the nest but an egg was rescued and taken to ICF for incubation. The good news was the hatching of #3-13 on May 15th! The chick became part of the Class of 2013 for the ultralight-led fall migration.

Fall 2013: Crane #41-09 (DAR) and female #38-08 (DAR) were reported Nov. 20 and again Dec. 4 in Jackson County, Indiana. His wintering location was unknown.

Spring 2014: Crane #41-09 DAR began associating with #10-10 when she landed in Jackson County, Indiana during her northward migration from Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on Feb. 22. The two birds continued migration on March 21 and female #10-10 was found on Necedah NWR March 28 with a bird that had a nonfunctional transmitter (probably #41-09).

Fall 2014: Crane #41-09 DAR and #10-10 began migration Oct. 25 from Wood County, WI but their wintering location was unknown.

Spring 2015: Crane #41-09 DAR returned to Necedah NWR and nested with mate #10-10 by early May, but no news came to indicate nesting success.

Spring 2016: Crane #41-09 DAR returned to Necedah NWR with mate #10-10 and the pair were observed on a nest on a May 19 survey flight. They were still nesting as of June 17.

Fall 2016: Male #41-09 DAR and his mate #10-10 were still in Juneau County, WI as of Oct. 31. In December they migrated to Jackson Co, IN

Spring 2017: Pair #41-09 DAR and #10-10 returned to Necedah NWR and the pair were seen nesting by early April. Their eggs were collected during the forced re-nesting study at Necedah. The pair did not re-nest unfortunately. By July 17th flight Bev reports she cannot locate 41-09’s mate number 10-10.

On August 1st this male #41-09 was seen with another female: wild hatched W18-15. 

Male Whooping crane #41-09 DAR and wild hatched female #W15-18 at Necedah NWR. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

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Crane #42-09

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: July 3, 2009
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: red/white/green

Personality and Characteristics: 

DAR #42-09 was the last DAR chick to hatch. She seemed to be the fastest learner for eating, finding the water bowl and following the costume quickly. All the staff working with #42-09 think she is adorable because she is so small compared to the others and she is intent on following the costume closely. She explores everything, picking up leaves, twigs, rocks. Anything and everything goes in her bill, at least for a short time. At Necedah she is very observant to her surroundings and has taken to eating the blueberries as long as the older Whooping cranes are not nearby to chase her off.

By mid August #42-09, the youngest chick, stayed in the night pen for the first time with DAR #39-09, #40-09 & #41-09. All went well. She was up and ready for exercise early the next morning. By the end of August she was one of two DAR chicks not yet flying, but it won’t be long until she is ready. When her protective buddy, #39-09, was kept quiet because of a leg injury, little #42-09 got picked on by the other chicks.

October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days the birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and some of them flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn’t tell which chicks did that because they didn’t get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.

The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds’ leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!

Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!

Fall 2009: DAR #42-09 was released at ERP on the refuge along with DAR #40-09 and #41-09. They roosted together there the first night, but returned to Site 3 the next day and joined DAR #32-09 and #38-09. Their other flockmates also soon joined them there. On October 27, DAR female #42-09 separated from the group and began associating with adults #10-03, #W1-06*, #1-01, #12-04, DAR #27-05 and sandhill cranes. But each night of the first days DAR #42-09 returned to roost on southern refuge pools. By Nov. 9 she and DAR #36-09 had been roosting off the refuge, separated from the other DAR juveniles. They continued to feed in cornfields south of the refuge or to forage and roost on the refuge. Next, she was closely associated with adult crane #9-05 for the last two weeks in November. Will she follow this older crane to learn her migration route? See her migration history, below.

DAR #42-09 with adult Whooping Crane #9-05 and some Sandhill Cranes. Photo: Richard Urbanek, USFWS

Migration History

First Migration, Fall 2009: Starting on November 11 female crane #42-09 DAR was closely associating with male #9-05. These two birds left Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on December 6 and moved down to the Lewiston area in Sauk County, Wisconsin. By December 8 they were no longer at this location and had presumably started migration. These birds were never detected or reported during their migration. ICF trackers did not know where they were until January 4, 2010. The Florida landowner called ICF trackers to report two cranes, one browner and one white. Tracker Sara confirmed it was #9-05 returning to his previous wintering area—with chick #42-09! She was the first DAR chick in the Class of 2009 to complete her first journey south!

Spring 2010: Crane names hereafter follow the naming conventions of WCEP: Female #42-09 DAR left her wintering area in Lake County, FL with male #9-05 to begin spring migration on March 6 or 7. She was the first DAR chick in the Class of 2009 to complete her first journey south—and now became the first ’09 chick to begin the journey north in spring. Her signal was detected at Necedah NWR on March 22! Male #9-05 was likely with her but they had separated by April and she continued to hang out with older birds #16-02 earlier and then #27-08 by mid April.

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

Spring 2011: Female #42-09 DAR and mate were reported in LaSalle County, Illinois, on March 24 and resumed migration from this location on March 30. They were found at their previous summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin, on April 4, migration complete!

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

Spring 2012: Pair #42-09 (DAR) and mate #24-09 — with pair #5-09 and #33-07 — completed migration back to their usual summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 12 or 13. Their previous known location was Hopkins County, Kentucky. They had been hanging out there with cranes #2-04 and #46-07 (DAR). They built their first nest, began incubating April 4 and successfully hatched two chicks (#W2-12 and #W3-12) on May 7 and 8. Sadly, both chicks were lost to them by May 16.

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF with aerial support from Lighthawk

Fall 2012: Spent the winter in Hopkins County, KY

Spring 2013: Pair #42-09 DAR and #24-09 completed spring migration by March 24. By late April or early May they were reported nesting. Like all but one of this season’s first nests, this pair’s first nest failed. They were reported with a second nest and two eggs, but this nest failed shortly after the June 4 survey flight. On June 5 Eva reported both cranes were off the nest and both eggs were gone. No further nesting took place for this pair this summer.

Fall 2013: Female #42-09 (DAR) wintered in the area of Hopkins County, Kentucky with mate #24-09 and several other cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on February 12, 2014:

Spring 2014: Crane #42-09 DAR and #24-09, along with pair #34-09 DAR and #1-10 began migration from their wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 22-24 March. They arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois, by roost on 26 March and completed migration to Wisconsin on 29/30 March. Crane #42-09 DAR nested with male #24-09 in Adams County and on May 13 tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed that the pair hatched chicks #W4-14 and #W5-14!

Fall 2014: Pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR migrated to Hopkins County, Kentucky by Nov. 21, where they associated with several other Whooping Cranes at that wintering location.

Spring 2015: Crane #42-09 DAR returned to Adams County, Wisconsin with mate #24-09 and nested, but their nest failed; no chicks for this pair this spring.

Fall 2015: Crane #42-09 DAR and mate #24-09 wintered in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #42-09 DAR and #24-09 returned north and nested in April. The first nest failed but they nested again in early June and hatched #W23-16 on June 28. This June photo shows him guarding after she settles down on the nest to incubate an egg. Unfortunately, their chick did not survive long.

Fall 2016: It was hoped pair #42-09 DAR and #24-09 would become allo-parents to two parent-reared colts released near them in Adams County in September, and would lead the young on migration. Unfortunately, the adult pair did not stay around long. Then, on Nov. 15 after a 20-day absence, male #24-09 and his mate finally reappeared to spend time with the young PR #29-16 and PR #39-16, arriving just as the weather turned snowy and windy. They succeeded in getting the colts to roost in the wetland a few nights, but not in following south. It appears that the adults may have left on migration Nov. 20. They were reported in Hopkins Co, KY in December.

Spring 2017: Female #42-09 DAR and mate #24-09 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Adams County and were nesting by April 5. Their chick, #W3-17, hatched the first week in May! The chick was still doing well with her parents when spotted from the air on May 25.

Photo: Bev Paulan, WI DNR

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Crane #W1-09

Gender: Unknown
Hatch Date: June 12, 2009
Legbands: Left: Right:

Biography: 

Chick W1-09 is a “foster” chick from an egg laid by a captive Whooping crane at ICF in Wisconsin. The egg was soon to hatch in an incubator when it was discovered that the two eggs in the natural nest of wild parents #12-02 and #19-04 were infertile and would not hatch chicks. The “bad” eggs were removed from the nest and replaced with the soon-to-hatch egg. Two days later chick W1-09 hatched! First-time parents #12-02 and #19-04 are tending the foster chick and raising it as if it were their own. The little family will migrate this fall and the adults will teach W1-09 the Eastern flock’s migration route between Wisconsin and Florida.

ICF Tracker Jessica Thompson took these photos of W1-09 and its family, saying, “The chick looked so gangly on July 4, but when I checked in on July 10, it looked real chubby. It was pretty cute walking up the road and flapping its wings to keep up with the adults.”

 

W1-09 was last observed with its foster parents on their territory in Wood County on July 12. When the family was next checked on July 15, the chick had disappeared. This very sad news means that the 2009 breeding season failed to produce any new chicks to add to the new Eastern flock’s population. 

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