#524 is Found!
By Sara Zimorski, ICF

Photo Dan Kaiser

Sometimes looking for a Whooping Crane is like looking for a needle in a haystack: the eastern US is enormous, Wisconsin is huge, and when you lose a bird's signal as it lands for the night even a small area where you know the bird has to be, can seem large. The ICF/USFWS tracking team is small and obviously can't be everywhere there's a Whooping Crane. This is especially true during spring and fall migration when birds are spread from Wisconsin to Florida. We always work with local, state, and federal employees as well as local landowners to help us with observations when birds are in their area — and we're not. We are grateful to everyone who reports sightings of Whooping Cranes, to everyone who monitors the birds and sends updates to us, and to everyone who gives us access to their property so we can check on the birds. This is a story about three of those important people and a missing crane.

Who was the Mystery Whooper that joined the five Dar birds in Indiana?
Photo Dan Kaiser

Three Indiana Helpers
This spring we have been lucky to have 3 especially wonderful people in IN who have been helping us keep track of birds. Dan lives in an area in southern IN where, during the past few years, a number of the whoopers pass through during spring and fall migration. Dan is a
wonderful photographer (with a long lens) who photographed the whoopers he found and sent us the pictures so we could identify the birds. This year he has gone above and beyond by helping track or check on a number of different birds at locations throughout Indiana. This was a huge help, since our team was often at other locations with different groups of birds.

Paul and Betty (and their neighbors) are private citizens who own a farm where the group of six DAR birds landed March 21 on their first journey north. Shortly after the birds arrived, Paul and Betty discovered that #43-07 had died after hitting a power line. The remaining five DAR birds in the group remained on Paul and Betty's farm until April 17. Dan met Paul and Betty when he went to their farm to check on the birds for us. I have never met Dan, Paul or Betty but I feel like I know them from our almost daily emails regarding the birds. Their help in monitoring the birds has been invaluable, allowing our tracking interns to follow other birds that were continuing to migrate north while these 5 stayed put.

Surprise! A New Crane Joins the Five DAR Birds
On April 14 I got an email from Paul and Betty saying the 5 DAR birds were still there and doing well, but in the evening they had been joined by a 6th crane. Now, of course we trust that Paul and Betty know what a Whooping Crane looks like but it just seemed too crazy for a separate bird to find these five. Dan and I both sent emails asking if they were sure the new bird was a Whooping Crane. The next morning they responded that they were sure and that the new bird had bands just like the others. Who could it be?

There weren't many options, so Dan planned to go up to the farm after work and figure out who the new bird was. Late on April 15 I received an email from Dan with the exciting news that the new bird was #524, a 3-year-old male whose transmitter is dead and who hadn't been seen since November 2007. It's very exciting that #524 ended up at the exact same farm as the 5 DARs since he hadn't been seen in so long, but it's also totally bizarre. It will be interesting to see what happens next! We hope #524 will lead the 5 DARs back to Wisconsin. Sometimes it's a much smaller world than we realize.

Journal Question

  • What happened next for #524 and the other DAR birds? Find out on their Bio pages: 524, DAR 37-07, 39-07, 42-07, 44-07, and 46-07. (Scroll down to the end of their pages for the latest news.)