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Bird Bio's - Class of '05

The Whooping cranes are numbered according to the order in which they hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.  The first digit indicates the year in which they hatched, and the last two digits indicates the order in which they hatched. 

Example: crane #501 is the first hatch of 2005. Crane #504 was the fourth chick hatched in the year 2005. 

ID#
Chick Photo
Personality Characteristics/Field Notes

501

  • Female
  • Hatched April 20th
  • Personality Characteristics: She missed a few days of training in the first weeks of her life due slight health problem, but she quickly recovered. She is dominant over 502, who is a very scared bird in general. On May 12, #501 was a bit of a hassle during training. During circle pen training, the pilot/trainer stops occasionally to give treats to the birds in the little inner-circle of sand. After each of these brief stops, 501 chased after 502 as she came running after Mark Nipper (in costume in the trike). Mark wasn't sure if 502 was following him and the trike, or just running away from 501--but it worked out well. So far 501 doesn't have the "hate" (though she is getting close), and just seems to be asserting her dominance. She swallowed a puppet string.

    She was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. On the chicks' first day of training at Necedah, #501 was curious enough to wander off after a scared #502 when she headed into the marsh. On July 2, #501, 502 and 503 got airborne. July 9 the three oldest are flying beautifully, crossing entire lengths of the runway. July 13 the three flew with the trike beyond the end of the runway and even landed again with the trike---real progress!

    Cohort 1 was doing great until about mid-September, when they went through a bit of regression after the stress of health exams. On September 9, all the birds except one tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. The pilots hope the chicks will be excited to follow the trike again soon.

    This picky little girl has always been trouble when it comes to taking her vitamins and medicines. She will not jest eat anything; she has to wash her food off first. She follows well enough and is a good flyer. She can be a little feisty at times.
  • First Migration South: Chick #501 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. She did just great, and landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #501 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of 3 counties (Turner, Crisp and Wilcox) in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
G/W | R/G/W
502
  • Hatched April 23rd
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: A little more nervous than the others in the first couple weeks of life. The week of May 28, #501, 502, and 503 began training behind the trike at the hatching center in Maryland. Moved to Wisconsin on June 15 with the other five oldest birds. She has a habit in which she always has to wash off whatever she's found or been given to eat! On her first day of flight school at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin, she wouldn't leave the pen. The noise of the approaching engine, though familiar, was too much for her and she was too scared to leave the pen. Pilot Joe Duff said, "She pushed against the back fence as the others tentatively came out the gate. We shut off the engine and spent 10 minutes coaxing her out. Once the engine was started again, and we began to taxi, she headed for the protection of the tall grass. Torn between hiding and following, she ran through the scrub brush, parallel to the runway, as the trike and the rest of the cohort headed north. Once we reached the end of the training strip, we stopped and began foraging for meal worms. Chick 502 headed deeper into the marsh. Once we had coaxed, cajoled, and corralled #502 back to the pen, we spent the better part of an hour foraging for treats around the aircraft. The birds and I poked the propeller, flicked the antenna, and generally kicked the tires until all the scariness was out of it. For the rest of the day, we replaced the heavy wooden gates with a wire mesh panel, Afterward, we parked the trike right outside. This gave the flock a view of the aircraft and lessened its mystique. This process was repeated the next day, and on the fourth day, #502 was the first bird out of the pen and first in line to run beside the aircraft."

    On July 2, #501, 502 and 503 got airborne. July 9 the three oldest are flying beautifully, crossing entire lengths of the run way. July 13 the three flew with the trike beyond the end of the runway and even landed again with the trike---real progress!
    On August 1 this cohort flew 17 minutes behind the ultralight! "Chick #502 may be the best flyer in this group, and has always been a very cute bird," said handler Mark Nipper.
    At mid-September, Cohort 1 was going through a bit of regression after the stress of health exams. On September 9, all the birds except #502 tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. Chick #502 is currently the whitest bird among the new flock, and she could be the best flyer in the whole flock--but for sure in this cohort.
  • First Migration South: Chick #502 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. She did just great, and landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #502 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) In the summer she wandered with some flock mates. She later moved to an area of IOWA, along with #503 and #507.
Banding:
R/W | G/W

503

  • Hatched April 23rd
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: A little distracted at ground school at Patuxent, but still got good scores. At the beginning of May Mark said, "#503 and #504 (she later died of health problems) start off great during trike training, but then get distracted and gradually pay less and less attention. These two have been able to walk together in the afternoons, but do not get along well enough to train together. They two seem to be buddies when they are in separate pens." Chick #504 later died of health problems, and #503 was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. By July 9, #501, 502 and 503 were flying low and beautifully along the entire length of the runway at flight school in Wisconsin. July 13 the three flew with the trike beyond the end of the runway and even landed again with the trike---real progress!
    At mid-September, Cohort 1 was going through a bit of regression after the stress of health exams. Chick #503 often followed #505 on his frequent drop outs. On September 9, all the birds except one tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. The pilots hope the chicks will be excited to follow the trike again soon.
    By September 15, this male is the biggest bird in the flock. He's a good flyer, although lately he's been leading other birds away occasionally. He is a dominant bird in the cohort, and he can be distant or aggressive to the handlers.
  • First Migration South: Chick #503 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005.
    Here is more news about Chick #503: Day 1: He returned to the pen and had to be crated and taken to the first stopover. (Chicks 505, 606, 516 and 524 turned back too.) On November 1 (day 19), #503 dropped out with about 6 miles left. He landed in an agricultural field. Mark Nipper tells more: "This bird had been struggling to keep up for about 10 miles or so. Shortly after #503 landed, I used the radio signals to determine which field the bird was in, but signal became very strange. It kept sounding like the bird was flying for short periods. This happened several times. All of a sudden the signal was back the other way--and a bird was crashing around in a thick hedge row between these two immense farming fields.  Poor #503 was thoroughly tangled up in some pretty nasty vines. He was understandably rather upset about it.  After freeing the bird and getting him out to the field, it became obvious that 503 didn't’t really want to be in the field. He wanted to hide in the tree line. This ended up working out just fine because there was no way that one person (me) was going to get back to the van, get a crate, and return to the bird without it seeing everything.  I placed a vocalizer in a branch of a tree with a clearing of nice moss bedding underneath. The welcoming brood call from the vocalizer made #503 rather happy, and allowed me enough time to get the crate out."
    Chick #503 was one of the six that had to be crated Nov. 30 as the flock left Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. He took off, but kept turning back. Pilot Joe said, "#503 kept breaking from the aircraft and leading the others back. I am sure it was the one that mutinied on Brooke originally. Once I found these birds in the air, I would get them on the wing and turn them on course but a bird in the middle of the group would turn away. Then they would all go. When I would catch up with them heading north again, #503 was always in the lead." He flew just fine on the next days when the whole flock of 19 flew together.
    #503 landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #503 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!On March 25 the 503s beak was examined by two Disney veterinarians. It appeared that the bird injured its beak several weeks earlier as the beak became caught in some opening, probably in the fence. It caused a serious scrape wound on the maxilla and an overgrown tip of the mandible, but the beak was healing just fine. No treatment was performed.
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) In the summer he wandered with some flock mates. He later moved to an area of IOWA, along with #502 and #507.
Banding:
G/W | W/R/W
505
  • Hatched May 1st, 2005
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Chicks #505, 506 and 507 were the first group of birds well-behaved enough to train together in their first weeks of ground school at Patuxent. Mark Nipper says, "They are funny little birds. Dominance in this group seems to change every day. They follow the trike pretty well for most of the time. Chick #505 doesn't cow down to 506 readily, even when #506 starts trouble. With these guys it isn't true fighting, but usually just bumping chests to see who is bigger."

    Chick #505 was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. By July 6, he and buddies #506 and #507 were trying hard to get airborne with the ultralight plane. He was doing short flights by July 9, but still walked or ran the rest of the runway. On August 1, Brooke flew in and all the birds came out of the pen in a shot. All six took off with the plane, but #505 soon came back. The other five birds flew for about 17 minutes. After the flight was over, the crane handlers got everyone but #505 back in the pen. They kept him out to get more training time. He flew on the wing for the length of the runway but peeled off quickly as pilot Brooke climbed and turned the trike (ultralight plane). Mark Nipper said, "#505 follows well and has a good attitude; it just needs some more time to develop." It was slow. On August 8th, when his cohort mates took off after the trike, #505 would not leave until scared off by the Swamp Monster! After a few minutes, #506 joined 505 and the two of them went back to the pen. After training the other four birds, and getting them back into the pen, pilots decided to try flying #505 and 506 again. This time it worked better. They flew over to a plot of flat land where the chicks were fed a small feast of smelt and grapes. They expected these treats as if they were royalty! Then the pilot led them in flight over Rynearson Pool 2, at which time #506 decided to go back to the pen. But 505 wanted to keep going, and he struggled to get closer to the wing. After a few minutes, #505 got the hang of it and he and the pilot flew on a tour of the refuge. On the way back to the pen, #505 suddenly went down and, to Richard's (the pilot's) amazement, landed next to an adult crane from an earlier ultralight flock. Worried, Richard made a quick turn and flew by the confused chick just as the adult attacked #505. But #505 flew up and got along the wing as if nothing had happened! He landed safely back at his pen. But after that, #505 started not wanting to come out of the pen. For several days, he seemed scared of Mark in his costume and terrified every time the the trike flew by the pen. But once coaxed out of the pen, #505 acts perfectly normal and flies wonderfully with the trike. "It beats me," said Mark. "We will just have to wait to see what happens tomorrow."

    In mid August, #505 hurt his leg while playing with a goose feather. Pilot Joe Duff said, "I saw a goose feather on the grass runway and decided to get the birds playing with it. I picked it up with the puppet and let the wind have it. Sure enough, 505 got excited and ran and jumped over as if to pounce on it. It went bad as the bird came down and began hobbling and not putting weight on one leg." It scared the handlers, but luckily the bird improved greatly in just a few hours.

    By mid-September, Cohort 1 was backsliding in progress a bit after the stress of health exams. Chick 505 causes the most worry, as he remains very timid. Some days he won't come out of the pen. The commotion seems to scare him. Sometimes he won't take off after the trike. Other times he returns to the runway before training is over, but he is getting better. He's not a strong flyer, but does follow well.

    Chick #505 broke away when Cohort One was flying over to join Cohorts 2 and 3 for the first time on September 17. Joe had to swoop in to lead him over. It took Joe in the air and the swamp monsters on the ground to keep #505 on Joe's wing, and 505 kept wanting to land for most of the flight. But--GREAT news--#505 stayed with the flock for the whole flight the first time all 20 flew together a few days later!
  • First Migration South: Chick #505 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005.
    Here is more news about Crane #505's first migration:
    On day 1 he returned to the pen and had to be crated and taken to the first stopover. (Chicks 503, 506, 516 and 524 turned back too.)
    On Day 2, #505 thrilled the pilots by flying the entire 27 miles with the ultralight! They have been worried how he'd do on migration. On Day 3 #505 didn't get out of the pen in time to take off with Richard's plane and the other 19 birds. He flew alone with Brooke's ultralight for another good travel day!
    #505 has been difficult in the past, preferring to turn back rather than stay with the rest of the flock. On Oct. 26 (Day 13) Brooke concentrated all his efforts on #505 after the others had taken off. The bird kept turning back after a few miles. Only after 30 minutes of aerial drama did the bird finally follow Brooke's plane.  Brooke arrived after being airborne for 2 hours and 6 minutes and walked #505 to the pen. WAY TO GO!
    #505 landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #505 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) They spent the summer wandering in and out of the core reintroduction area. Crane #505 (with #506) was last confirmed in Green County, WI on September 15.

Banding:
G/W | G/R/W

506
  • Hatched May 2nd
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Chicks #505, 506 and 507 were the first group of birds behaved well enough to train together in their first weeks. Mark Nipper says, "They are funny little birds. Dominance in this group seems to change every day. They follow the trike pretty well for most of the time. #506 is the most aggressive, but the dominance is hard to tell during training. Just because he starts everything doesn't mean he is winning. The other two in his little group don't readily cow down to him, even when he starts trouble. With these guys it isn't true fighting, but usually just bumping chests to see who is bigger." He was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. By July 9, #506 was still a "lagger." He needs a little more coaxing to follow and does very little flying yet. But he IS a little younger than the other Cohort One chicks, and will need a few more days before he can fly as well as the others.

    While flying on August 8th, #506 joined 505 after a few minutes of flying with the trike, and the two of them went back to the pen. After training the other four birds in this group and getting them back into the pen, the pilot decided to try flying #505 and 506 again. This time it worked better. They flew over to a plot of flat land where the two chicks were fed a small feast of smelt and grapes. (They expected these treats as if they were royalty!) Then they flew back with the trike over a pool, and that's when #506 decided to go back to the pen instead of following the trike some more.He will eat anything, and he loves corn. He is weaker than some of the birds, and turns back to the runway. He is middle in the order of dominance.
    On August 10 the handlers said #506 sounded very good. His normal-sounding peep was very encouraging, since he's had periodic respiratory problems since he arrived at Necedah, and he coughs occasionally.On Aug. 11, #506 got lost! The Cohort One birds had a great flight around the Refuge got spooked by the traffic when the pilots led them near the highway. The pilots knew they'd better take them home. But trouble struck over a thickly wooded area on the way to the pens. Mark said, "Poor little #506 just couldn't get the altitude and speed to keep up with the trike and went down in the woods." After some frantic circling and searching by pilot Richard van Heuvelen (RVH), a full-scale search was launched. Helpers got the capture gear: crate, first aid kit, and bull horn speaker for the vocalizer, waders, treats, binoculars, and GPS. Everyone pitched in The rains fell, and Richard circled the trike in the air search as the others slogged through the forest in what became an extremely grueling and fruitless 6-hour march. A further problem was #506's respiratory trouble. This not only weakened the chick, but also affected its peeping ability. A good way to find a bird is to play the vocalizer and then turn it off to listen for the chick to answer. It was looking pretty bleak when RVH came over the radio of the ground searchers, yelling that he had #506 in the air and it was heading right for the wing. The bird followed for a short distance then made its way over to another wetland on the refuge and landed. RVH pulled off a daredevil landing on a dike and joined the bird. arrived to discover the bird in perfect shape and mood. They got 506 in the crate and back to the pen. The happy ending is that bird was perfectly fine after being lost for about six hours. Where was he all that time? One of the refuge staff spotted #506 walking down Headquarters Road (the main entrance to the refuge)! This was shortly before RVH flew over, so #506 must have gotten in the air from that road. Searchers think that #506 was in the woods and they just missed it. The chick eventually found a lovely clearing with nice foraging along a road that they had driven back and forth on at least ten times and within ten minutes of RVH spotting it. Mark Nipper said, "We were all quite happy and celebrated by eating lunch and sleeping the rest of the day."

    At mid-September, Cohort 1 was going through a bit of regression after the stress of the health exams. Chick #506 often follows #505 on his frequent drop outs. On September 9, all the birds except one tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. The pilots hope the chicks will be excited to follow the trike again soon.
  • First Migration South: Chick #506 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Chick #506: On day 1 he returned to the pen and had to be crated and taken to the first stopover. (Chicks 503, 505, 516 and 524 turned back too.)On day 43 in Tennessee, he dropped away from the birds following Joe's plane as they climbed to cross the highest mountains on the migration route. As they descended to land after a tough flight, Joe noticed one more bird up high. With 10 on the ground and 9 on their way down, Joe thought that the high one must be one of the older cranes also reaching the Hiwassee Refuge. But once it landed there was no mistake, it was#506! Joe said, "All nineteen birds were safely on the ground, which meant one had followed us at tree-top level for the last 10 miles but the other crossed the ridge and kept us in sight for better than 30 miles, joining us as we circled down." Which do you think was #506?

    #506 landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #506 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) He spent the summer wandering in and near the core reintroduction area. Crane #506 (with #505) was last confirmed in Green County, WI on September 15.
Banding:
G/W | R/W/G
507
  • Hatched May 4th
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: In her first days, trainer Mark Nipper said, "#507 is a little, well 'crazy' is the only way to put it. This little one runs around her pen screaming more than anything else. The poor little bird is healthy enough, she just needs time to calm down a bit." Trainers got her to eat and drink a little more and thought that would calm her. "There are always birds that are scared, angry, or just plain nuts, but they all figure it out eventually," said Mark. Chicks #505, 506 and 507 were the first group of birds behaved well enough to train together in their first weeks. Mark said, "They are funny little birds. Dominance in this group seems to change every day. They follow the trike pretty well for most of the time." She doesn't readily back down to the more aggressive #506.

    She was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. On July 9 she was left in the pen during training due to a toe injury. Cohort 1 was doing great until about mid-September, when they went through a bit of regression after the health checks. On September 9, all the birds except one tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. The pilots hope the chicks will be excited to follow the trike again soon.

    She is generally a good flyer, but will follow buddy #506 back to the runway during training flights. Very submissive, and the lowest bird on the dominance scale. She Also acts submissively to handlers, not always pecking at the bill of the puppets.
  • First Migration South: Chick #507 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Crane #507's first migration: On day 2 of the migration, #507 (and #512) turned back to the launch area. They were crated and traveled by van to the new stopover site in Juneau County, WI. She was a real trooper the rest of the migration, and never made any trouble.On Dec. 13, #507 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #507 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) In the summer she wandered with some flock mates. She later moved to an area of IOWA, along with #502 and #503.
Banding:
G/W | W/R/G
508
  • Hatched May 8th
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: Gave trainers a bit of a scare for for the first few days after hatching. She was not gaining weight well and had to be tube fed. Made a comeback on May 11 and is now doing well.
    Began first training a few days later when still pretty young, and was quite scared of the trike. After a few days she was much less frightened. On May 15 she was found fighting with 504 (who later got sick and died) through the Plexiglas that separates their pens. Their food bowls were right next to each other and they were fighting over them. #508 is about 5-7 inches tall, while the older 504 was already around 2 feet tall. Birds that young can be violent enough to take on full adults sometimes too. It is a great example of the instinctual aggressiveness of these chicks. She got along with #509 while at Patuxent. The trainers worked hard to add chick #513 to the little group of #508 and #509. (#513 wants to be in charge all the time.) By the end of June she seemed to grow out of her aggressiveness. She now lets #513 dominate this group of oldest birds. Chick #508 was held back in Maryland due to injuries when the rest of cohort 2 was shipped on July 6. Instead, #508 arrived at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin with shipment 3 (the youngest chicks) on July 13. She and #514, also held back with injuries, were reunited in the pen with their old cohort after arrival. They did well on the journey from Patuxent in Maryland and began to drink and eat upon entering the pen at their new summer home in Wisconsin. On July 30 it was too windy to train with the trike, so the birds were let out to exercise. Right away, #508 and #509 (currently, cohort 2's two best flyers) took off and easily cleared the short fence bordering the runway to land about 50 yards away in a fun, marshy area.
    On August 1 #508 was flying on the wing of the trike (while #509 flew straight into the marsh as usual)--and #508 flew 17 minutes with the ultralight!
    On September 9, #508 and her Cohort 2 had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight! What a relief after several days of dropping out and missing flying time after the stress of the health checks.

    She has gone from being a very aggressive little chick to a submissive colt and a good flyer. She follows and flies well, and loves the water in the wet pen.
  • First Migration South: Chick #508 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Chick #508's first migration: On Day 1, #508 landed 1 mile short of the first stopover site. She was just too tired to make the distance. She was crated and driven to the first stopover site, but did just great after that! She landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site. On January 9--nearly a month after the migration ended, Crane #508 was the only one to successfully fly with the ultralights from the temporary pen at Halpata Preserve to their final winter pen at Chassahowitzka NWR, 26 miles away. She spent the night by herself in the top-netted pen at Chassahowitzka. Pilots spent the next 2 days trying to move the rest of the birds.
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI--just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)

    PTT reading for #508 on the night of 8 September 8 indicated that the pair #508 and #407 had moved to southeastern MINNESOTA, where #407 had been present at the same time in 2005. The pair later moved to Marathon County, Wisconsin, where they hung out with a flock of sandhill cranes.
Banding:
W/R | L G/W
509
  • Hatched May 10th
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Learned quickly how to eat food and drink water with the puppet's example. #509 and 510 have been training and walking buddies ever since they were tiny chicks. On June 3 they both started their circle pen training. Chick #509 shipped to Wisconsin on July 6 with #510 and all the rest of Cohort 2. On the first day of training after arrival at Necedah NWR, #509 needed extra coaxing to come out of the pen. Trainer Robert Doyle fed #509 smelt (smelly little fish) to get him to follow the trike along the grass training strip. Then, after it finally rained and filled the pond, almost nothing would get #509 out of the wet part of the chicks' pen. Arm flapping, yummy treats, battery-powered vocalizers--all these tricks had to be used to coax #509 to come out of the wet pent for training. Sometimes other birds, especially his buddy #510, followed his bad example. By July 30, #509 was coming out of the wet pen and onto the runway without any hassles. But his new bad-habit-of-the-week was to fly off the runway and into the non-enclosed marsh area to forage (probe for food). One day #509 and #508 (the group's two best flyers at this time) took off and easily cleared the short fence bordering the runway. They landed about 50 yards away in a fun, marshy area, ignoring the costumed crane handlers AND the ultralight planes (trikes). Shortly after, chicks #510, #511, and #512 flew off to join the wayward chicks in the marsh! As trainer John Thomton says, #509 has always been a very independent bird. "He's a little bit of an outsider in the group, but whenever anyone challenges him, he's quick to put the challenger in his place. He's also good at ignoring the handlers when he wants. I'm always wondering what 509 will do tomorrow!"

    Things went well until August 28, when Cohort 2 moved in with Cohort 3 chicks at the east site. When the Cohort 2 birds (the better flyers) were let out to fly with the ultralight, #509 spent more time on the grass runway than following the ultralight.

    On September 9, Cohort 2 had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight! What a relief after several days of dropping out and missing flying time, most likely from the stress of the health exams.
    This is an independent bird, but much improved from a month ago. He flies well, but can be slow to return to the pen after training. He can be aggressive, and is mid-level in dominance.
  • First Migration South: Chick #509 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. He landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site. On January 10, Crane #509 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #509 and 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the final 26 miles. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.) He wandered a lot during the summer and was reportedwith sandhills in Barron County, on September 5 after not being seen anywhere since June 18 in Fayette County, Iowa.
Banding:
G/W | R/W/R
510
  • Hatched May 14th
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: She worried the trainers at first because he ate and drank water all the time on her own but failed to gain weight or stay properly hydrated. Then she got better. Started circle pen training on June 3, same day as #509. Arrived in Wisconsin on July 6 with the rest of cohort 2. Chicks #509 and #510 needed a little extra coaxing to come out of the new pen on their first day of training after they arrived in Wisconsin, but soon improved. She's a submissive little girl.

    On Aug. 5, this cohort had nothing but confusion and chaos during their training session. But on Aug. 6, all of the birds stayed on or really near the runway when they weren't flying, except for #510. The costumed handlers had had to retrieve her from a pool right by the runway, but she came out easily and quickly when the they found her.

    The cohort struggled in training for several days. Finally, on September 9, Cohort 2 had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight!

    She is a good flyer, but she can have trouble coming in and out of the pen. She is buddies with #50 and #512.
  • First Migration South: Chick #510 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more about about Chick #510's first migration: On Day 5, #510 must have wanted a day off from migration. She had to be coaxed out of the pen by Walt, who quickly snuck back into the pen trailer to grab the "swamp monster" cape. With a little help from the scary swamp monster, she charged out of the pen and was soon airborne with Richard and his ultralight!

    She landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

    On January 10, Crane #510 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #510 and 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the 26 miles. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
R/G/W | G/W
511
  • Hatched May 16th
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Did well in early circle pen training and walking alone with the trainers. Next, the trainers need to get the chicks into small groups so they get used to being together without fighting. Chicks #511 and #512 walked together June 2, and trainers had #514 join them June 3. Arrived in Wisconsin on July 6 with the rest of cohort 2.

    Chick #511 is a big bird. He sometimes acts aggressive towards the handlers. He is scared of the adult birds when they appear on the training strip. He acts adversely to them inside or outside the pen.

    On September 9, Cohort 2 finally had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight! It was a big relief after several days of struggling and missed flying time that followed the health exams.

    By late September, the combined cohort 2-3 was still figuring out a social structure. Normally submissive Chick #511 was getting mean. He began attacking the costumes with a vengeance, especially when Mark and Chris were in them! On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #511 (along with 519, 520, and 524) were the stragglers and they came back to the runway.

    This bird has been getting more aggressive. Mark Nipper says 511 "hates most of us," and #511 really picked on Charlie Shafer, the "new kid," when Charlie arrived to join the ground crew in October.
  • First Migration South: Chick #511 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Nov. 30 he wouldn't follow the ultralight. He kept turning back to Hiwassee with a small group of other cranes who didn't want to leave the nice marshes at Hiwassee. He was put in a crate and driven to the next stopover site. After that day, he followed the ultralight just fine. He landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site. On January 10, Crane #511 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #511 and 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the 26 miles. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. The flock split, with #511 and #521 staying in Turner County, GA on March 28. The two were last recorded there on March 30. Trackers had to leave these two birds behind in order to track the others. At 4:00 PM April 19, the radio signals #511 and #521 were detected over Necedah NWR. They had just completed their first spring migration!
Banding:
W/R/W | G/W
512
  • Hatched May 16th
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics:
  • Personality Characteristics: This chick is small, feisty and mischievous. Arrived in Wisconsin on July 6 with the rest of Cohort 2. Trainer Mark Nipper said, "This little guy is only half the size of #508, but is all attitude. He seems to particularly enjoy running around and biting all the other birds' butts. He looks odd but proud when he stands tall with a mouth full of fluffy tail feathers from his bullying." In fact, Chick #512 seems to be the most dominant and aggressive bird of Cohort 2. He chases and pecks any bird that dares get near him. Chicks #511 and 514 are favorite targets.

    By July 21, all the Cohort 2 birds followed the trike well. One of the birds even got off the ground for about 50-60 feet. Chicks #512 and #514 are the bullies, often pounding on the other chicks in their eagerness to exit the pen when the gates are opened for training. By August 1, #512 was airborne but not quite climbing high.

    On Aug. 5 pilot Brooke decided that he was going to take off from the ground and see how many of the chicks would follow him for a few laps around the pen and runway areas. The birds scattered almost as soon as they were let out of the pen. Brooke quickly found one chick--#512--stuck on the other side of a water ditch. The chick was confused by how to get back to the runway. JohnThomton stood on the opposite bank of the ditch and motioned for #512 to follow, but he wouldn't come! The chick may have been intimidated by two adult whooping cranes on John's side of the water. Still, #512 refused to walk across the shallow water to John—very strange, since #512 practically lives in the wet side of his pen! Eventually, John had to wade over to the bird, flooding his boots and soaking his pants and white costume. No amount of coaxing could get #512 into the water. John said, "He didn't even take any of the yummy grapes I offered as motivation for crossing the ditch." Finally, Brooke landed his trike and came over. Brooke and John kept walking the long way around because today $512 apparently didn't want his feet wet! As the three costumed handlers neared the pen with #512, the bird saw Brooke's trike parked WAY down on the other side of the runway—and took off flying towards it! The trainers had to keep silent, but they wanted to scream with frustration. Finally, Brooke walked down there and taxied the trike back over to the pen. After an hour, #512 followed and the episode was finally over.

    On August 28, the first day Cohort 2 and Cohort 3 birds were at the same pen site, #512 went through a gap in the fence that divided the two cohorts. He was stuck with the younger birds in their pen while his own cohort was let out for training with the ultralight. Both groups were let out to mix with each other for the first time later that day. What did #512 do? He took off alone and flew in a big circle, landing back on the grass runway with the group!

    After the health exams, #512 started struggling to keep up with the group. He would often fly back to the runway and miss out on over half the training flight. But on September 9, Cohort 2 had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight.

    He is about mid-level in dominance, and a good flyer. He can be a character. He often ignores costumed handlers and refuses to go back into the pen after training.
  • First Migration South: Chick #511 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here's extra news about Chick #511's first migration: On day 2 of the migration, #512 (and #507) turned back to the launch area. They were crated and traveled by van to the new stopover site in Juneau County (17.1 miles). Again on Nov. 30 he wouldn't follow the ultralight. He kept turning back to Hiwassee with a small group of other cranes who didn't want to leave the nice marshes at Hiwassee. He was put in a crate and driven to the next stopover site. After that day, he followed the ultralight just fine. On Dec. 13, #512 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #512 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
G/R/W | G/W
514
  • Hatched May 19th
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Started out as a pretty small chick but is active and seems fine. He was beat up by #513 on May 28. He is a very scared little bird pretty much all of the time. This chick had a broken toe and then later cracked some ribs in a fall, so it missed training and socializing sessions for a whole week. He stayed back in Maryland when cohort 2 was shipped to Wisconsin so he could recover from injuries. Chick #514 arrived in Wisconsin on July 13 with the chicks in the youngest group, cohort 3. Then both #508 and #514 were reunited with their old cohort 2, now at their new summer home on Necedah NWR. The two chicks fared well on the journey and began to drink and eat upon entering their new pen with their old cohort. #514 has a very crooked toe but runs and jumps right along with the rest of them.
    By July 21 he trained without any trouble or sign of a limp. All the cohort 2 birds followed the trike well, and one of the birds even got off the ground for about 50-60 feet. However, pilots couldn't tell exactly which bird flew because all of the chicks' uniquely colored and numbered leg bands are now all caked with mud!
    On August 28, Cohort 2 joined the younger Cohort 3 birds to live at the same pen site. When both groups were let out to mix with each other for the first time, #514 and #524 chased and bit each other. They jump-raked each other too (jumped into the air and kicked out at each other with their sharp claws). The handlers said they behaved" like jerks" towards the other birds.
    AFter several days of struggling after the health checks, Cohort 2 finally had a great flying day on Sept. 9. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight!
    On September 15, the combined cohorts 2 and 3 took their first training flight together! Chick #514 is Number One in dominance. This aggressive bird is IN CHARGE of all the other birds. He follows the handlers and trikes really well, but he can be hard on the other birds.
  • First Migration South: Chick #514 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Chick #514 landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

    On January 10, #514 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. On the second day of trying, the birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #514 and 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the 26 miles. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
R/W/G | G/W
515
  • Hatched May 22nd
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: Stood up for herself. Liked to stay near costumes. Followed slowly at back of the group. Liked to eat a lot of pebbles. Was not a good flyer.
    Died: Sept 12/05 – accident with guy wire on trike, died as a result of her injuries.
516
  • Hatched May 28th
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Very young and small and cute and clingy at Patuxent. Follows right under the costume or as close to the trike as possible. Screams constantly if not near one of them. During training, he tried to get over the fence to get to the trike.
    Arrived in Wisconsin on July 6 with the rest of cohort 2. All behaved as though they had been raised there, and looked very healthy. By July 9, #516 and all the other cohort 2 chicks were following well and running after the trike with great enthusiasm. "In fact," said Mark, "#516 is so keen that we think he wants to fly the trike. He continually hugs up next to the trike, almost getting in the way." By July 21, all the cohort 2 birds followed the trike well, and one of the birds even got off the ground for about 50-60 feet. However, it was hard to tell exactly which bird flew because all of the chicks' uniquely colored and numbered leg bands are so covered with caked-on mud!On September 9, Cohort 2 finally had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight! What a relief after several days of struggling after the recent health checks.

    Chick #516 is much less clingy than he used to be. He's going the opposite way now, gaining independence. He blends in instead of standing out like he used to. He's a very good flyer and follows well. He is mid-level in dominance.
  • First Migration South: Chick #516 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Crane #516's first migration:
    The team has watched #516 closely since before migration began. First they noticed a small fracture in his bill. On Day 1 of migration, he did not leave the refuge; he came back to the pen with a limp and swollen foot. (This same foot had been swollen a couple months ago.)
    On Day 5 (Oct. 18), #516 took off with 18 other birds behind Brooke's plane. But ten minutes later, he got caught in the wires on top of the ultralight. Brooke landed immediately with #516 in a cow pasture. The other pilots quickly took over and led the other birds onward to the new landing site in Green County, WI. Brooke examined #516 and decided that the bird was able to continue flying, despite a scratched leg. He took off again with #516, but landed in another field when the bird lagged behind. Then something spooked #516 and he took off again! Brooke took to the air and led #516 to a harvested soybean field. Charlie caught up to Brooke and #516 resting in this field, and #516 finished this leg of the migration stuck in a box on a long, bumpy ride in a motor home. Mark pointed out this isn't a small list of troubles, even for the most hardy birds. "Through all of these misfortunes he may have walked a little funny over to the pen, but he was still the feisty little bird he always has been. This morning [Oct. 19] the little guy looks even better still, and we are all encouraged by his quick recovery."  But when they next flew (Oct. 23, day 10), #516 did not want to fly. He finally took off with Brooke but broke away after only a minute. The young bird landed in a field and would not be coaxed back up. Joe said, "It may still have been sore--or maybe it just recognized Brooke!" He didn't fly the next time, day 13, either.

    By Oct 27 (day 14), #516 still was hesitant. Angie arranged for Dr. Barry Hartup to X-ray the bird to see the condition of the wing. By Oct. 31, Angie reports: "For physical therapy, we have been putting a warm compress on his right carpal joint for about five minutes, then work his wing on passive range of motion exercises until his joint loosens up.  During his exercise sessions, we let him out of the pen by himself and run with him to encourage him to fly near the pen.  At first he seemed a little awkward and was reluctant to extend his wing fully, but On Oct. 31 he flew about 100 yards or so 6 or 7 times and looked great. The crew is very encouraged by his willingness to fly, at least around the pen, and we are going to encourage him to fly with the rest of the group on our next leg of the journey once the wind dies down.  For the last 5 legs he has made all or most of the journey in a crate, and we hope that he will soon have the strength and the stamina to keep up with the other birds." 

    November 1: Day 19 #516 circled a few times on take-off, but then landed. He was still reluctant to fly with the flock. He was crated and driven to the Boone County site.
    November 2: Day 20 #516 flew ALL THE WAY (55.2 miles!) behind Chris! He was the only bird Chris had, so he received full benefit from the wing's helpful air currents. The next flying day was not until Nov. 11, day 29. He flew the whole 40.6 miles!
    November 30: #516 refused to take off with the flock when they left Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. He just landed in the field next to the pen because the swamp monsters were out (trying to scare the birds into taking off with the ultralight). He and five other reluctant cranes were crated and driven to the next stop.
    December 13, arrival day! Chick #516 was the one bird who landed early--in a field near the Dunnellon Municipal Airport. He was crated and driven the short distance to the temporary drop-off site at Halpata Preserve.
    In the month at Halpata Preserve, the birds were let out of the top-netted pen to exercise their wings. But #516 worried the aviculturalists. He either couldn't (or wouldn't) fly.
    The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

    January 9, 2006: Crane #516 didn't fly with the ultralights on the first day of the move. On the second day of trying (January 10), #516 flew but then dropped out. The good news is that he is flying again. The pilots tried again on January 11 to get the remaining cranes over to Chass. All the rest of the birds EXCEPT #516 made it to Chass on the third day of trying: January 11.
    January 12: "#516 did not much want to fly this morning," said Mark Nipper. "We went out to the Halpata pensite with all three pilots and an army of swamp monsters. Richard lined up in front of the pen and Sara opened the panels. 516 didn't want to come out on his own so Sara had to herd him out. He did take off behind Richard but then quickly turned away. He headed right for the little spot that he has been landing in for the last few days. But today we were already there with a swamp monster, so he kept flying. But rather than climb over the trees with the planes, he flew through the tops of the trees instead, and landed in a clearing right on the other side. It was pretty scary watching him weave through the branches, not gaining altitude but actually descending. When Sara and I rounded him up, he followed us back to the pen and went right in. He seems happy as can be in there. We will be discussing the situation with the vets and hoping that this bird will still be able to join the flock." He remains in the top-netted pen until doctors decide on a plan for him.
    January 18: Team member and crane monitor Mark Nipper reports: "We went to Halpata to let #516 out for some exercise. He was excited to get out of the pen and while he took a few short flights, he wasn't able to fly very high or far, and he looked uncoordinated. It was still rather gusty though, so maybe it was good that he flew at all. We will be moving #516 out to the Chass pen in the next few days. Hopefully, the change of setting, and being back with his buddies will encourage him to fly."
    January 20: #516 went to Chass and rejoined the flock. Mark Nipper reports: "We got 516 in the crate just before dawn Thursday morning. Traffic was light, so we made it to the boat launch in good time. . .Once the crated bird was in the boat everything went pretty well. We had to go slowly, and even had to get out and push/pull the boat through a few shallow areas, but it was a smooth and quiet ride. . . At the Chass pen site, #516 came out of the box just fine and looked good on the walk to the pen. He followed us to the pen just fine, and went right in. He has always been a good follower, and easy to get in and out of gates. He looked good in the pen, and none of the other birds seemed too concerned about him."
    "A few days later, the top net was removed and the birds were free. Happily, #516 (and others) took off and flew circles around the new area. He looked good in the air! He then attempted to come in for a landing in the pen.....but on the part of the pen that still had some net on top. Oops. When he realized there was something in the way, it looked like he tried to power back, but he just couldn't. As a result, he landed on the top-netting and Mark and Sara had to struggle to get him off." Mark said he seemed fine when they finally got him off. He followed them easily back into the covered pen and then out into the big pen with the open top.

    March 12: GREAT NEWS! Mark said, "516 has made marked improvement over the last month. He definitely has the willingness to fly and stay with the group. It is usually hard to spot him in the air now because he is right in with the flock."
  • History: Spring 2006: Began migration March 28 in the flock of 18 that left that day. They made it to Turner County, Georgia, but other flock members took off shortly after landing. Only cranes #516 and #522 stayed at this first stop to roost. Despite his earlier wing problems, #516 is doing great! He and #522 were in Meigs County, TN on Mar. 30 and 31. They migrated to Floyd County, IN on April 1. Location unknown April 2 and 3. On April 4 they resumed migration. They were hampered and blown eastward by a strong northwest wind and landed to roost in Decatur County, Indiana at least to May 5. On May 12-13, #516 was reported from a yard and hayfield in Eaton County, MICHIGAN. He was alone. Because of injury, #516 missed a significant portion of the northern part of the ultralight-led migration in autumn 2005. Separated from #522, he is unlikely to complete migration to Wisconsin on his own. Thus, on May 16, the crane team and a small private plane retrieved him from a flooded backyard and brought him home to Wisconsin. Migration complete! By mid-June his limp was barely noticable. He moved to Dane County, WI (outside the core reintroduction area) for most of the summer.
Banding:
W/R/G | G/W
519
  • Hatched May 30th
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: During their first weeks, 519, 521, 522, and 523 trained well together at the circle pen. "These guys are hilarious," reported trainer Mark Nipper at Patuxent WRC. "They run in a tight little bunch in the circle. They are constantly knocking into each other and a couple of them really compete to be the closest to the trike. After a few minutes, they will start getting tired and hot, or just lazy, and break up a little. There is usually a bird in every group that will linger behind and forage on its own. For a long time, I thought that 519 was that bird. Lately, however, each bird has been taking a turn at this "lagging" behavior." On July 10, Mark said, "Lately 519 has decided it doesn't like me and is trying to beat me up all the time. Today we have had a breakthrough with these chicks out at the pond. We have not been able to leave the pen without them becoming highly stressed and pacing along the fences. This leads to banged up faces and raw spots on the body from rubbing. The birds will stick their heads through the fence if they can. All of this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy. What we trainers usually do is take turns sitting in the pen with them. It is really pretty fun to hang out with the birds and just let them do their own thing in the water. They usually take baths and are running around all over the place trying to catch everything that moves. It is very important, though, that they be able to spend time away from us. Once we're all moved to the reintroduction site at Necedah NWR, we try to spend as little time as possible with the birds. That time becomes less and less as we get closer to migration. We hope this helps the chicks to be less attached to us and allows them to just be birds."
    Chick #519 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray! She's meek and mild, but by August she doesn't take any garbage from the older ultralight-led adult whoopers hanging around the training strip. She loves to chase them away!

    As days of flight training passed, some days #519 doesn't even get off the runway. She follows the trike, flying along the ground until reaching the unmowed grass. Then she stops. She has been missing out on some flight training. The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then #519 and two other birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---but when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, it worked! All three became airborne and followed for about half a circle before breaking off and again returning the runway.

    On September 15, Cohorts 1 and 2 took their first flight together. All came out of the pen very excited, all flew well, and only #519 and her buddy #520 turned back early. Mark said, "That's okay. They just don't have the strength that the rest do."
    On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #519 (along with 511, 520, and 524) were the stragglers and they came back to the runway. She's still a submissive bird.
    September 28, the crew had a surprise. Angie said, "#519 has always been a relatively submissive bird but has suddenly become pretty gutsy. She will chase almost any bird that comes near her, but will generally back down to other more dominant birds. In fact, a couple of days ago, we noticed that she was missing a patch of feathers on the left side of her face.  We guess that she tried to take on one of the more aggressive birds and paid for it with a few feathers. The feathers are growing back nicely now, and we think she learned a valuable lesson because she has been a little more mellow the past few days."


    First Migration South
    : Chick #519 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. She performed wonderfully during the migration with no behavior problems or illness. On Dec. 13, #519 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. But in the few weeks at Halpata, she became very submissive and the other birds picked on her a lot. She became terrified of both the other birds AND the costume. The cranes will be moved in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.

    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Not until the third day of trying (January 11) did #519 follow the ultralights over to Chass. HOME! After being at the Chass release site for a week, the birds were let out of the top-netted pen to exercise. (They had not yet been "turned loose" full time.) From the pen, Mark Nipper reported: "#519 was one of the birds that flew. When she landed she came down on the other side of the pen, and as usual, she didn't make it easy for us to get her back into the pen."
    At Chass, #519 seemed very scared and nervous.
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
G/R/G | G/W
520
  • Hatched May 31st
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: Chick #520 and #526 did very well in training at the circle pen at the hatching center in Maryland (at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center). Chick #520 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray! She was a pretty good little flyer by August 28. That's when the older, better flyers of Cohort 2 moved in with the younger Cohort 3 chicks at the east site. (The two groups will live together but train separately until the younger ones become stronger flyers.) When the Cohort 3 birds were still flying around with the ultralight, #520 landed in a marsh, right behind the Cohort 2 side of the pen. She stayed close. But when it was Cohort 2's turn to fly, #520 tried to follow. She flew down to the end of the runway, but she stopped as the ultralight and the other birds came closer. John was glad, because she's probably not ready yet to fly with Cohort 2. "She wouldn't have been able to keep up." Chick #520 is one of the chicks struggling to keep up with the group. She's been flying back to the runway and missing out on over half the flights. The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group. All the Cohort 3 birds took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then three birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---and #520 wasn't one of them! Handler John Thomton said, "I was happiest for #520, who has been hugging the runway a lot lately. She followed the trike for the entire time today! That's my girl!!"
    On September 15, all the birds of Cohort 1 and 2 took their very first flight together. All came out of the pen very excited, all flew well, and only #520 and her buddy #519 turned back early. Mark said, "That's okay. They just don't have the strength that the rest do." She tends to be submissive in the cohort, and can't keep up with the other birds in the air. She has dropped out of the flight over the refuge, but returns to the runway on her own.
    On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #520 (along with 511, 519, and 524) were stragglers that came back to the runway.
  • First Migration South: Chick #520 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Chick #520: On Day 14, Joe looked down to see a lone bird flying far below. It was #520, who tired, struggling, and dropping. Joe did a fast descent to collect the lone bird. She was panting hard and anxious to join Joe's wing. #520 dropped into place and soon closed her beak and began to breathe normally. She got a nice lift from the current under Joe's wing and had a much easier flight with more gliding and less flapping.
    On Day 58, she was one of the 12 birds who didn't make it to the Cook County, GA stop. She dropped off Richard's wing and landed in a sod farm south of Albany, Georgia. Trackers located her signal and Chris, who had dropped off his bird at Cook County, turned back to find her. As soon as she saw Chris flying low over the field she popped up and followed Chris back to the starting point. Not long after Chris got #520 on the wing, the team began wondering if he had enough gas to get there.  Luckily, Chris was able to make it back and the bird was fine.

    On Dec. 13, #520 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the chicks on January 9, 10 and 11. Crane #520 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: #520 began spring migration with adult whooping crane #309 (who has never successfully returned to Wisconsin) on March 27, one day before the rest of her flock mates. They made it to Dooley County, Georgia March 27, and then to northern Georgia on March 28. On March 29 the two were still together in Meigs/Rhea Counties in Tennessee, right on the route back to Wisconsin! On March 30 they were in Ripley County, IN. The two resumed migration April 2. According to PTT readings, they roosted that night in Huntington County, Indiana; on April 3 in Allen County, Indiana; and on April 4-5 along the western shore of Lake Huron in Sanilac County, Michigan. On April 6 they continued northward and stayed along the shore of Lake Huron in Huron County, MI until April 13 when they moved into Ontario, Canada. On Apr 15 they continued eastward re-entered the U.S. to roost in Jefferson County, NY. Both birds returned to Lewis County, NY April 17 before moving on April 21 to Addison County, Vermont.They flew back to Lewis County NY (the area that #309 occupied in the spring of 2005) on April 29.

    The two were captured May 5, 2006 and flown in a private plane HOME to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin.

Banding:
R/G | G/W
521
  • Hatched May 31st
  • Female
  • Personality Characteristics: During their first weeks, 519, 521, 522, and 523 trained well together at the circle pen. "These guys are hilarious," reported trainer Mark Nipper at Patuxent WRC. "They run in a tight little bunch in the circle. They are constantly knocking into each other and a couple of them really compete to be the closest to the trike. After a few minutes, they will start getting tired and hot, or just lazy, and break up a little. There is usually a bird in every group that will linger behind and forage on its own. For a long time, I thought that 519 was that bird. Lately, however, each bird has been taking a turn at this "lagging" behavior." On July 10, Mark said, "Today we have had a breakthrough with these chicks out at the pond. We have not been able to leave the pen without them becoming highly stressed and pacing along the fences. This leads to banged up faces and raw spots on the body from rubbing. The birds will stick their heads through the fence if they can. All of this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy. What we trainers usually do is take turns sitting in the pen with them. It is really pretty fun to hang out with the birds and just let them do their own thing in the water. They usually take baths and are running around all over the place trying to catch everything that moves. It is very important, though, that they be able to spend time away from us. Once we're all moved to the reintroduction site at Necedah NWR, we try to spend as little time as possible with the birds. That time becomes less and less as we get closer to migration. We hope this helps the chicks to be less attached to us and allows them to just be birds. Chick #521 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray! In flight training, she tried hard to keep up, but can't quite do it. She lags behind, but only occasionally returns to the runway or lands in the marsh. She likes to chase the white birds (the adult whooping cranes). She's "kind of spunky" and will peck back at more dominant birds!
    The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then three birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---but when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, all three became airborne and followed before dropping out again. Not #521--who hung in there all the way!
  • First Migration South: Chick #521 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. She landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site. On January 10, Crane #521 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #521 but only 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the final 26 miles.
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. The flock split, with #521 and #511 staying in Turner County, GA on March 28. The two were last recorded there on March 30. Trackers had to leave these two birds behind in order to track the others. At 4:00 PM April 19, the radio signals #511 and #521 were detected over Necedah NWR. They had just completed their first spring migration!
Banding:
G/W/R | G/W
522
  • Hatched June 1st
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: During their first weeks, 519, 521, 522, and 523 trained well together at the circle pen. "These guys are hilarious," reported trainer Mark Nipper at Patuxent WRC. "They run in a tight little bunch in the circle. They are constantly knocking into each other and a couple of them really compete to be the closest to the trike. After a few minutes, they will start getting tired and hot, or just lazy, and break up a little. There is usually a bird in every group that will linger behind and forage on its own. Lately, however, each bird has been taking a turn at this "lagging" behavior." On July 10, Mark said, "Today we have had a breakthrough with these chicks out at the pond. We have not been able to leave the pen without them becoming highly stressed and pacing along the fences. This leads to banged up faces and raw spots on the body from rubbing. The birds will stick their heads through the fence if they can. All of this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy. What we trainers usually do is take turns sitting in the pen with them. It is really pretty fun to hang out with the birds and just let them do their own thing in the water. They usually take baths and are running around all over the place trying to catch everything that moves. It is very important, though, that they be able to spend time away from us. Once we're all moved to the reintroduction site at Necedah NWR, we try to spend as little time as possible with the birds. That time becomes less and less as we get closer to migration. We hope this helps the chicks to be less attached to us and allows them to just be birds. Chick #522 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray!
    On July 19, Mark raised a concern: "This bird has had an odd gait since it was very young at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. It seemed to clear up some as it got older, but now that it is here in Wisconsin the gait looks just as bad as it did before. The bird is not necessarily lame or limping. It holds its body very oddly while running and kicks its legs high behind it making it lose balance often."
    By mid-September, he still has a funny gait when he runs, but it doesn't cause problems for #522 or anyone around him. (Sometimes when a bird runs or flies oddly it can run into the others and be a burden or danger.) Chick #522 is a good flier. He has become a very independent bird, and he doesn't want to go back in the pen after training sessions.
  • First Migration South: Chick #522 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Chick #522's first migration:On Day 13 (Oct. 26) #522 got tired and dropped out 12 miles from the destination. Luckily, one of the ultralights later turned back to pick him up and he flew to the new stopover site--60.6 miles from where they started.
    He landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The 19 cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.
    On January 10, Crane #522 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock.The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #522 but only 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the final 26 miles.
  • History: Spring 2006: Began migration March 28 in the flock of 18. They made it to Turner County, Georgia, but other flock members took off shortly after landing. Only cranes #516 and #522 stayed at this first stop to roost. They were in Meigs County, TN on Mar. 30 and 31. They migrated to Floyd County, IN on April 1. Location unknown April 2 and 3. On April 4 they resumed migration. They were hampered and blown eastward by a strong northwest wind and landed to roost in Decatur County, Indiana. They were seen together at this location on May 5. The next sighting of #516 was on May 13 in Eaton County, Michigan but #522 was NOT with him. Crane #522's location was confirmed in Montcalm County, MI on May 16. He stayed in Michigan with sandhill cranes during May and June, moving on to Oceana County, MI. He was last detected leaving there on 14 June when he flushed with sandhill cranes as WCEP trackers tried to capture him to relocate him to Wisconsin. He was not tracked further and remains the only bird that was NOT found during the summer.
    October 28: The remains of no. 22-05 were found on the west edge of
    Cygnet Cove, south of Woodruff Lake, Mason County, Michigan. Remains were overgrown by marsh vegetation and consisted of disarticulated bones, some feathers, and a pile of gastroliths. The yearling male had probably been dead 2-4 months.
    Intern Tally Love pinpointed location of the transmitter during aerial
    radiotracking on 25 October. No. 22-05 had last been observed as he left Walkinshaw Wetlands, Oceana County, Michigan, on 14 June. On that date he flushed with sandhill cranes during reconnaissance for a retrieval attempt. He flew southward with 30 sandhills into Muskegon County and was not tracked further.
Banding:
R/W/R | G/W
523
  • Hatched June 1st
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: During their first weeks, 519, 521, 522, and 523 trained well together at the circle pen. "These guys are hilarious," reported trainer Mark Nipper at Patuxent WRC. "They run in a tight little bunch in the circle. They are constantly knocking into each other and a couple of them really compete to be the closest to the trike. After a few minutes, they will start getting tired and hot, or just lazy, and break up a little."
    On July 10, Mark said, "Today we have had a breakthrough with these chicks out at the pond. We have not been able to leave the pen without them becoming highly stressed and pacing along the fences. This leads to banged up faces and raw spots on the body from rubbing. The birds will stick their heads through the fence if they can. All of this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy. It is very important, though, that they be able to spend time away from us. Once we're all moved to the reintroduction site at Necedah NWR, we try to spend as little time as possible with the birds. That time becomes less and less as we get closer to migration. We hope this helps the chicks to be less attached to us and allows them to just be birds."
    Chick #523 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray!

    The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers, which was probably a result of the health check. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then three birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---but when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, all three became airborne and followed before dropping out again. #523 held up and flew the distance.
    He is large is size, but not in attitude. He usually blends in with the crowd, but sometimes challenges other birds. He loves to chase adults. He has a chronic deep peep. He used to resist returning to the pen, but is getting better.
  • First Migration South: Chick #523 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Here is more news about Chick #523's first migration: On Day 13 (Oct. 26) #523 got tired, dropped out, and had to be crated and moved the final 6 miles to the pen in LaSalle County, IL. On Nov. 30 he wouldn't follow the ultralight. He kept turning back to Hiwassee with a small group of other cranes who didn't want to leave the nice marshes at Hiwassee. He was put in a crate and driven to the next stopover site.

    On Dec. 13, #523 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9, but only #508 made it on this day. On the second day of trying (January 10), six more made it. The pilots tried again on January 11 to get the remaining cranes over to Chass. Crane #523 and all the rest of the birds EXCEPT #516 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
W/G/R | G/W
524
  • Hatched June 1st
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Hatched June 1, 2005. His toes had to be taped at Patuxent, and he often tripped and fell over the toe-taped foot when walking. But the toe got straight, the tape came off, and he walked much better! He was the dominant chick in his cohort at Patuxent. On July 10 (just before cohort 3 shipped to Necedah), Mark said, "#524 is a little bit of a pain to the other birds."
    Chick #524 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other Cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All Cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray!
    On August 28, Cohort 2 joined the younger Cohort 3 birds to live at the same pen site. When both groups were let out to mix with each other for the first time, #524 and #514 chased and bit each other. They jump-raked each other too (jumped into the air and kicked out at each other with their sharp claws). They "acted like jerks," said the handlers.
    As days of flight training passed, some days #524 doesn't even get off the runway. He and #519 follow the trike, flying along the ground until reaching the unmowed grass. Then they stop, so they have been missing out on some flight training. The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then #524 dropped out and #526 and #519 followed. They all returned to the grass runway---but when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, it worked! All three became airborne and followed for about half a circle before breaking off and again returning the runway.
    By September 15, chicks #524 and #526 are grappling for second place in the combined 2/3 Cohort, with #514 in first place. Chick #524 is not yet a great flyer. He often returns early to the runway. He can still be clingy with the handlers, peeping loudly and begging.
    On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #524 (along with 511, 519, and 520) were stragglers that came back to the runway. But he's getting better--and he is still one of the top birds in dominance on the ground.
  • First Migration South: Chick #524 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. On day 1 he returned to the pen and had to be crated and taken to the first stopover. (Chicks 503, 505, 506 and 516 turned back too.) on Nov. 30 he wouldn't follow the ultralight. He kept turning back to Hiwassee with a small group of other cranes who didn't want to leave the nice marshes at Hiwassee. He was put in a crate and driven to the next stopover site. After that day, he followed the ultralight just fine.

    On Dec. 13, #524 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.
    The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #524 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!
  • History: Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Banding:
R/G/R | G/W
526
  • Hatched June 3rd
  • Male
  • Personality Characteristics: Chick #520 and #526 did very well in training at the circle pen at the hatching center in Maryland (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center). Chick #520 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely.
    On July 19, #526 was able to displace adult whooping crane #218 while in the midst of an aggressive display. (Adult #218 hangs around the new chicks' training site, where she herself trained as a chick in 2002.) A peck at those pretty white tail feathers and #218 moved right over!
    He has a crooked bill, but it causes no problems. By September, #526 and a few others have been struggling to keep up with the group, especially since the health check. They've been flying back to the runway and missing out on over half the flight. But the September 9 training session was an improvement. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. However, #526 and two other chicks soon dropped out. They all returned to the grass runway. But when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, it worked! All three became airborne and followed for about half a circle before breaking off and again returning the runway.
    By September 15, when the combined cohorts 2 and 3 took their first training flight together, #526 was grappling with #524 for second place in the large group, with #514 in first place. He isn't the strongest flyer, but #526 follows the costume well. He is a little over-aggressive to any other birds.
  • First Migration South: Chick #526 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005.
  • History: The team was shocked and sad to find #526 dead in the pen the evening of November 9, day 27 of the migration. They were at the Morgan County, Indiana stopover site. The youngest bird, 526 was a strong, large male. He was a long way from the bottom of the dominance order. Why did he die? The team first thought it might be aggression between birds due to their long stay in one place. That kind of fight results in multiple and obvious injuries. but #526 only had one injury around the left eye; none of the other birds showed any signs of aggression or injury. Maybe a disease or swallowing a foreign object caused a collapse and the other birds pecked at him once he was down. He could have jumped up in the high winds blowing through the pen and hit his head on something hard. No one knows. His carcass was sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for a necropsy to learn the cause of death.

    The exam showed a puncture through the left eye and into the head, but no penetration to the brain. Some bruising was found, and a hemorrhage in the brain that would result from a powerful blow to the head. The doctors believed the fatal injury was caused in the pen in a fight with another crane.

 

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