Class of 2017

 

This year the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership is using two release methods: Group One – Modified Costume-Rearing (CR) and Group Two – Parent-Rearing (PR). Group Three includes any wild-hatched crane chicks that survived to fledge and migrate south.

The first group, consisting of seven young Whooping cranes was costumed-reared at White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin at the pensite, which used to house the ultralight-guided cranes each year.

The intent of costume rearing is to increase the amount of on-site learning for the cranes, or getting them into their release area sooner. To that end, the group of seven arrived from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland on June 21, 2017.

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Group One – Costume-Reared (CR) Whooping cranes
1-17 2-17 3-17 4-17 6-17
7-17 8-17
Group Two – Parent-Reared (PR) Whooping cranes

As the name implies, they have been raised at the captive breeding centers (in enclosures) by their parents from the time they hatched until early September when they were transferred to Wisconsin. 

19-17 24-17 25-17 26-17 28-17

Found dead Dec. ’17

30-17 36-17 37-17 38-17 39-17

Powerline Strike Nov. ’17

72-17
 Group Three – Wild-Hatched Whooping cranes
W3-17 W7-17
   

On July 10th the seven young costume-reared Whooping cranes were vaccinated by Dr. Barry Hartup of the International Crane Foundation and two vet tech students with University of Wisconsin. The vaccinations will guard them against Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Crane #1-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen.

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 24, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/red/white Right: red/green

Personality and characteristics: Number 1-17 established himself quite early as the LEADER. A very dominant crane. He’ll take a jab at another bird for no reason just to assert his authority. He’ll also take jabs at costumes and puppets he is not familiar with.

Colleen says from a very early age, this young crane colt could spot a worm at 50 paces!

As he developed over the season Colleen described him as the one to always be most vigilant. Very aware and confident. 

This Whooping crane came from the captive breeding stock at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, in Laurel, Maryland.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #2-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: April 28, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Number 2-17 has been the crybaby but she is smart enough to take breaks and go drink before remembering she was having a temper tantrum and gets back to it quickly. She peeps loudly. A lot.

She is a full sibling to male #3-17 and both came from the first ever wild hatched crane in the Eastern Migratory Population, female number W1-06. Dad is number 1-10 and their territory is at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, WI.

As this female developed over the season she became independent, inquisitive and self assured. She did not mind being off alone.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #3-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 29, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/white/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: LOVES the water! Sticks his head under for long periods of time, to explore and look for tasty treats. Loves to bath and splash in the water. Fearless and is loyal to the costume. 

He is a full sibling to number 2-17 and is the complete opposite. He is confident and inquisitive, while she whines and peeps constantly.

He is very brave, aggressive – almost like a watch dog. He has attacked Doug Pellerin, who volunteers on Thursdays and also Taylor, one of the vet techs that assisted with the vaccinations along with Dr. Barry Hartup on July 10th. 

Both came from the first ever wild hatched crane in the Eastern Migratory Population, female number W1-06. Dad is number 1-10 and their territory is at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, WI.

As he grew over the summer Colleen described his as “in your face, confrontational quick to jump rake. Often on attack mode all of which was to disguise his wimpy streak. Wanted to go back to the pen early, scared of the water. Insecure. My favorite bird.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #4-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: April 30, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/white/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: Colleen says that early on this was a rather quiet bird and the smallest of the group. He loved the costume during outings at Patuxent. 

Heather noticed this little fella acts first then thinks. When the gates to the wet pen were first opened to allow them access, he charged out then a half hour later he seemed reluctant to step over the wooden 2×4 threshold to get back inside the dry pen where their feeders are.

Eventually, his nature became similar to #3-17. A bit less aggressive and more confident. But very quick to follow 3-17’s lead to attack

Number 4-17 is a full sibling to number 6-17 and both came from eggs collected at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge under the forced re-nesting study where all first eggs are collected to encourage the crane parents to re-nest when black flies are no longer an issue.

The parents of whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 are Mom #32-09 and Dad #7-07.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #6-17

Photo captured June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 2, 2017
Legbands:  Left: red/white Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: She is Independent to the max! She goes off exploring on her own. She can also be a pain in the butt as she initiate challenges and “face-off’s” with others in the small group.

Number 6-17 is a full sibling to number 4-17 and both came from eggs collected at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge under the forced re-nesting study where all first eggs are collected to encourage the crane parents to re-nest when black flies are no longer an issue.

The parents of whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 are Mom #32-09 and Dad #7-07.

Colleen describes #6-17 as “sweet easy going. Go with the flow. Nondescript.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #7-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 3, 2017
Legbands: Left: white/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics: This young girl crane was very clingy while at Patuxent. She is very alert and can appear nervous and fidgety at times. 

She has gone for a swim several times in the large pond at White River Marsh.

She came from an egg collected at Necedah NWR under the forced re-nesting study and her parents are male #9-05 and female #13-03.

As this young crane developed over the summer, Colleen described #7-17 similar to #6-17: “sweet easy going. Go with the flow. Nondescript.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

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Crane #8-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 3, 2017
Legbands: Left: white/red/green Right: red/green

Personality and Characteristics:  Hatched the same day as #7-17. Her parents are EMP whoopers 12-03 & 29-09. As a very tiny crane chick, she was cute and happy and loved to play in the grass.

She could, at times, be uncooperative about coming out of her chick run but that seemed to be a phase and she got over it soon enough.

The smallest of the group – noticeably. Colleen described this female as “pugnacious yet timid to a point then could get an attitude. Initially afraid of water. Stuck to the costume the longest. Very clingy. Definitely bottom of the pecking order in terms of the social structure.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

 
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Crane #19-17

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 17, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/white

Personality and Characteristics: This fella is the oldest in the Parent-Reared group of 2017 – Oldest by 2 days. He was transported to Wisconsin on September 12th. 

The same day they arrived they were banded by Richard Urbanek and given a brief health exam by Patuxent’s Dr. Glenn Olsen. Once this was complete he was placed in a temporary holding pen for two days to allow him and the others to recover from the stress of being moved from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland to Wisconsin.

Whooping crane #19-17 and another male #25-17 were transported to Marathon County, WI on September 14th and released near two adult female cranes, #28-05 and #2-15. 

Juvenile crane #19-17 has two white bands on his right leg, which you can see on the crane on the left. #25-17 is on the right.

Over the next few weeks these two formed a bond with the two females and actually followed them south on migration!

Fall 2017: By the end of November this foursome of Whooping cranes had arrived in a lovely wetland in Jackson County, Alabama – some 700+ miles to the southeast!

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Crane #24-17

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 19, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: This young male crane also arrived in Wisconsin on September 12th. Following a quick health check and procedure where he received his permanent legbands, he was placed in a pen for a week until a release location could be found.

Number 24-17 was released September 20th in Dodge County, Wisconsin in a marsh where adult female whooping crane #66-15 had been spending time. All Parent-Reared cranes were released at roost locations so that they would have safe roosting areas overnight and until they formed associations with the target release cranes.

OM’s Heather Ray monitored this crane post-release and reports that over the many hours he was observed he was only ever seen with Sandhill cranes and never with the target release adult, number 66-15.

This was the first flight this young male crane made. Photo: H. Ray

Three days after this young crane was released he left the marsh for the first time (photo above). He began to associate with a Sandhill pair that had one chick of their own so perhaps they were more open to taking in a second youngster. Each day he flew to a field approximately 4 miles away to forage and then he would return to a small pond to roost. The pond was not too far from the marsh he was released at.

Fall 2017: Number 24-17 migrated south in mid-November and flew to Jasper County, Indiana. This is an area frequented each fall and spring by thousands of Sandhill cranes who congregate at the Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. But get this – He was seen with two adult Whooping cranes!

It seems that somewhere along the way, or perhaps when he arrived, he managed to find #71-16 and male #63-15. Here’s a photo of the three of them together in Jasper County, Indiana.

Parent-Reared crane #24-17 on the left with adults 71-16 and 63-15 on the right. Photo: Gary Soper

In late December adult #63-15 led this young crane southwest to Kaskaskia Island – his usual wintering location. The adult female these two had been associating with carried on to Jackson County, Indiana.

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Crane #25-17

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 20, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: Number 25-17 arrived in Wisconsin on September 12th along with four other Parent-Reared cranes.

The same day they arrived they were banded by Richard Urbanek and given a brief health exam by Patuxent’s Dr. Glenn Olsen. Once this was complete he was placed in a temporary holding pen for two days to allow him and the others to recover from the stress of being moved from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland to Wisconsin.

Whooping crane #25-17 and another male #19-17 were transported to Marathon County, WI on September 14th and released near two adult female cranes, #28-05 and #2-15. 

Over the next few weeks these two formed a bond with the two females and actually followed them south on migration!

Fall 2017: By the end of November this foursome of Whooping cranes had arrived in a lovely wetland in Jackson County, Alabama – some 700+ miles to the southeast!

19-17 and 25-17 followed two adult female Whooping cranes on a southward migration.

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Crane #26-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 21, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics: This young female crane was released in Marquette County, Wisconsin on September 18th along with male #28-17. She was pretty much a home body and didn’t move around much at all. She was never seen associating with the two adult target cranes: Male #10-11 and female #27-14, however, in late October, she was spotted with two male Whooping cranes, #4-14 and #11-15.

Two males: 11-15 & 4-14 land very close to Parent-Reared female chick #26-17 in Marquette County, WI. Photo: H. Ray, Operation Migration

This young female crane migrated south, possibly with the two adult male cranes, #4-14 and 11-15 to Wabash County, Illinois. Sadly, this young female crane was found dead mid-December in Wabash County, Indiana.

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Crane #28-17

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 23, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/green Right: red/green/white

Personality and Characteristics: Released in Marquette County, Wisconsin on September 18th along with female #26-17 and immediately began a game of hide and seek. The two came out of their crates side-by-side but never associated with each other.

26-17 and 38-17 each in a crate, are carried into the area for release.

The day after this young male was released he began a game of hide and seek and was never seen again by trackers. He was spotted a couple of times by Wisconsin DNR pilots during aerial surveys and then by a birder in Walworth County, Wisconsin in late November. 

This is the last time 28-17 was seen at the release location in Marquette County, WI. Photo: H. Ray

28-17 was spotted in Walworth County, WI in late November by Beth Martin.

This was the only Whooping crane chick in the 2017 cohort that did not receive a remote tracking device so we have to rely on public sightings like the one above to verify his identity. 

Winter 2017/18: Whooping crane 28-17 finally appeared in south Florida in late January 2018. He was associating with three Sandhill cranes but he wasn’t too far from the area where 16-12 is known to be. A bit further south is another young Parent-Reared Whooping Crane, #72-17. Here’s hoping the three of them actually find each other!

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Crane #30-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: May 26, 2017
Legbands: Left: red/red Right: white/green

Personality and Characteristics: This young female Whooping crane arrived with the second shipment of cranes from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on October 3rd.

A couple of days after she arrived she was moved to Winnebago County, Wisconsin to be released in the same wetland as #72-17 was spending time following his release a couple of weeks earlier.

Number 30-17 hid for a couple of days but eventually came out from her hiding spot and began associating Sandhill cranes. Jo-Anne Bellemer monitored this crane for several weeks and only ever saw her by herself, or with a small group of Sandhills.

30-17 was released in Winnebago County, WI. Photo: J. Bellemer

During the first week of November, she began heading southwest and arrived at a location along the Mississippi River. She stayed at this location until the middle of the month and then continued south – and continue she did. All the way to the southernmost tip of Louisiana!

Take a look at her migration map:

She is in a coastal area of Louisiana that is very remote and her tracking device allows us to keep tabs on her location so we’ll update this as soon as she decides to head north in the spring.

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Crane #36-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 8, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/red Right: white/white

Personality and Characteristics: This young female was raised by adult Whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. She was shipped to Wisconsin with four others on October 3rd when they were banded upon arrival and placed in a temporary holding pen.

Two days later, she and female PR #37-17 were transferred to north Marathon County, WI and released in the vicinity of two male yearling cranes. Numbers 29-16 and 39-16 were Parent-Reared cranes from the 2016. 

These two juvenile cranes were monitored by interns with the International Crane Foundation and they reported they observed a “loose association” with the two yearling males.

The two adult males on the left and two juvenile Whooping cranes on the right. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

They were observed in the same area several times but a bond didn’t seem to form and the two males flew south to the wintering location they used last year – leaving the two young female cranes behind.

Number 36-17 began heading south along with 37-17 on November 12. Both have GSM remote tracking devices so we are able to see when/where they are with good accuracy.

Unfortunately, the remains of 37-17 were collected by Necedah National Wildlife Refuge biologist Brad Strobel on November 13th from Necedah, Wisconsin where it appears she collided with a powerline. 

Whooping crane 36-17 continued south and flew to Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in northern Indiana. She remained there until the 2017/18 polar vortex moved south and she then flew further south to the panhandle area of Florida.

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Crane #37-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 16, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/red Right: red/white

Personality and Characteristics: This young female was raised by adult Whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. She was shipped to Wisconsin with four others on October 3rd when they were banded upon arrival and placed in a temporary holding pen.

Two days later, she and female PR #36-17 were transferred to north Marathon County, WI and released in the vicinity of two male yearling cranes. Numbers 29-16 and 39-16 were Parent-Reared cranes from the 2016 release and had been hanging out in the Marathon County location for approximately 3 weeks. 

These two juvenile cranes were monitored by interns with the International Crane Foundation and they reported they observed a “loose association” with the two yearling males. They were observed in the same area several times but a bond didn’t seem to form and the two males flew south to the wintering location they used last year – leaving the two young female cranes behind.

Number 37-17 began heading south along with 36-17 on November 12. Both have GSM remote tracking devices so we are able to see when/where they are with good accuracy.

Unfortunately, the remains of 37-17 were collected by Necedah National Wildlife Refuge biologist Brad Strobel on November 13th from Necedah, Wisconsin where it appears she collided with a powerline.

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Crane #38-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 18, 2017
Legbands: Left: white/white Right: green/red

Personality and Characteristics: She was hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and transported to Wisconsin on October 3rd. She and number 39-17 were released at the same location on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin on October 5th in hopes they would find adult crane #63-15.

Whooping crane 38-17 takes her first flight. Photo: H. Ray

The two did not stay together for long and number 38-17 soon moved a bit southwest of her release location, while #39-17 moved to the east side of the refuge. Both spent time with Sandhill cranes.

Number 38-17 was associating with a couple of Sandhill cranes – One appeared to have a broken wing and couldn’t migrate south.

See the Sandhill in the middle? Note the droopy wing? Photo: Doug Pellerin

By the end of December one of the Sandhill’s had left and number 38-17 and the bird with the broken wing were still at Horicon despite frigid temperatures. A plan was worked out to capture the young Whooping crane, however, only the Sandhill crane was captured. It was taken to a rehab facility for examination and to determine if the wing could be repaired.

Meanwhile, number 38-17 continued to spend time at Horicon and as of January 8, 2018 she was still there. Several capture attempts have been made but she has managed to evade capture so far. ICF’s Hillary Thompson reports 38-17 appears to be eating the corn at the bait station and she is likely eating snow for water. 

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Crane #39-17

Gender: Female
Hatch Date: June 22, 2017
Legbands: Left: white/red Right: green/red

Personality and Characteristics: She was hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and transported to Wisconsin on October 3rd. She and number 38-17 were released at the same location on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin on October 5th in hopes they would find adult crane #63-15.

This young crane flew off shortly after release and roosted approximately 300 meters from 38-17. The following day, Heather was able to get a visual on both of them and confirmed they were alright.

Over the next few weeks, this young Whooping Crane traveled to the east side of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge with a small flock of Sandhill cranes. She was never observed with another Whooping crane. 

On December 9th, number 39-17 began heading south and in one day covered approximately 200 miles before arriving at Jasper Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area in Jasper County, Indiana.

As of mid-January, she is still at this location.

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Crane #72-17

Gender: Male
Hatch Date: May 23, 2017
Legbands: Left: green/red Right: white/red

Personality and Characteristics:  Number 72-17 was hatched and raised by adult Whooping Cranes at the International Crane Foundation. His nickname is Amethyst. 

He was released in Winnebago County, WI on October 6th and the next day was observed with Sandhill Cranes exploring the surrounding area.

Whooping Crane #72-17 (aka Amethyst). Photo: J. Bellemer

About a week later #30-17 was released near him but the two were never observed associating.

He began heading south on November 16th and only 4 days later he arrived in central Florida – some 1200 miles south. 

Whooping crane 72-17’s migration route south.

Winter 2017/18: Whooping Crane 72-17 is confirmed in Okeechobee County, FL along with Sandhill cranes.

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