Class of 2010 in Florida: Two Gone!
Mar. 25, 2011
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Chassahowitzka NWR

What a week! All five (#3-10, 9-10, 15-10, 16-10 and 17-10) of the Class of 2010's Chass chicks are doing great. Crane #3 has an incredibly large red patch already, and barely any brown feathers at all! A look at the "kids:"
Young Whooping cranes at feeder in release pen
Eating at the Feeders
Young Whooping cranes at feeder in release pen
Photos Eva Szyszkoski

Males #912, 924 and 41-09 (DAR) stopped at the pen on the evening of March 18 and stayed until March 20. We don't know where they wintered in Florida. They didn't cause any problems with the chicks because when they tried to come into the pen, #827 (who showed up Feb. 21) and the chicks chased them back out. Crane 827's aggressiveness is drastically reduced. Sometimes he even lets the chicks eat from the same feeders as he does.

ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski

ICF tracking field Manager Eva is with the Chass Five this winter. She will track them back to Wisconsin, too!


In order to cut down costume time with the birds and since it's closing in on possible migration time, we decided to leave the feeders down. We added one additional feeder separate from the food shelter so that the chicks would be able to get food.

St. Marks NWR

Crane-kids #1-10 and #8-10 left St. Marks NWR and began their first northward migration March 21, the first full day of spring! Brooke said they left sometime between 10:30 and 4:45 pm. He had seen no behaviors that would indicate their intention to start migrating. They began the journey north with yearling cranes #925 and #929, who had been at the pen site with the chicks all winter. Meanwhile, the remaining three (5-10, 6-10, and 10-10) are flying more and flying farther, using feeders less and finding more food in the marsh. They are ready for migration!

Here's a look at all five just a week ago to show how they've changed over the past couple of months. Do you see that very little of the rusty brown coloring remains on the youngsters? Now it's hard to tell the five juveniles in the Class of 2010 from yearling cranes #925 and #929, who have been spending the winter with them.
Whooping cranes at Chassahowitzka NWR in Florida Whooping cranes at Chassahowitzka NWR in Florida
Images: Joseph Bonislawsky, member of the St. Marks Photo Club. He airboated out to the blind with Brooke Mar. 19-20 weekend and took these photos!


Operation Migration pilot Brooke Pennypacker
Photo Mark Chenoweth

Operation Migration's Brooke Pennypacker leads the winter team that is monitoring the five young cranes at St. Marks NWR.

Click the St. Marks crane cam to visit the wintering crane-kids! (NOTE: The feed is not a streaming, continuous feed. Instead, the image refreshes every few seconds. It is best viewed with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Internet Explorer does not behave properly.)