Personality and History (Scroll to bottom for current news)
Personality Characteristics: Friendly with the costume but very dominant with the other birds. Kind of a bully. Gets excited about things. The caretakers call him a "wacky whooper" because he will fight with gates, plants and rocks. Caretaker Mark thinks #211 hallucinates and acts as if he is killing snakes by stomping them.
Fall 2002: Successfully finished his first journey south behind ultralight plane.
Spring 2003: Left Florida on first journey north April 1, 2003 with 14 other whoopers. Returned successfully to Wisconsin April 13. Spent the summer about 15 miles from Necedah NWR with five flock mates. Bonded with #212 and they were often seen back at Necedah NWR in late summer.
Fall 2003: Began migration on Nov. 13 with six flock mates and #102. This group of eight arrived at their old pen site in Florida on November 21, 2003. During their entire journey south, the group stayed together and didn't even mix with sandhill cranes. This group left the old pen and moved to Pasco County shortly after arriving in Florida.
Spring 2004: On March 18, 2004, #211 departed from the Pasco County winter location with Cranes 209 and 212 and spent that night in southern Georgia. They roosted in McHenry County, IL on March 25 and 26. They were next seen at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge—HOME! They most likely arrived on March 27.
Fall 2004: Remained at or near the Necedah NWR until Dec. 11, along with #212 and 217. Arrived at the Florida pen site at 12:45 EST December 15. They flew the whole route in just 4-1/2 days! They roosted that night in the pool within the pen, near the top-netted enclosure containing the 13 newly-arrived 2004 chicks. On December 16 they stayed at the pen all day and night. The trio of #211, 212 and 217 spent time at or near the pen but moved on Dec. 26 to the Pasco County site that was used by #211 and #212 during winter 2003-04. Cranes #211, 212 and 217 sometimes returned to the pen site and were hostile to #214 when she also returned. They drove her away.
2005: Crane 217 (with 205, 211, and 212) departed
Pasco County, FL between March 10 - 12. Confirmed back at
Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 29. On the evening of 17
April, #217 (female) stayed on the nest the pair built in
the pond on the east side of the dike, while #211 (male)
roosted alone on the west side of the dike on their pond.
This behavior could indicate that laying of an egg is imminent.
Sure enough! They laid an egg in their nest, probably April
19. Unfortunately, the pair left the nest site and moved
off the refuge by late afternoon, leaving the nest unattended
during the night. The next morning the egg was gone, apparently
taken by a raccoon or other predator. The pairremained together
on or near their territory at Necedah NWR all summer. In
the fall they foraged in a field along with the direct autumn
release (DAR) chicks with only minor aggression. If other
adults appeared around the DAR chicks' home, pair #217 and
211 usually drove them away.
2006: Crane #211 (together with #217) began migration
from a cattle ranch in Pasco County, Florida on February
28. They apparently arrived on their territory at Necedah
NWR in Wisconsin on March 28. They built a nest and were
confirmed incubating on April 11! But on April 20 both these
adults were seen foraging together, an indication that their
nest had failed. Biologists examined the nest site on the
morning of April 21. No egg remains were found in or near
the nest. A crane egg shell, believed to be from this Whooping
Crane nest, was found on the dike about 300 meters from the
nest, probably carried there by an avian predator. See
photos. Then—surprise! This pair nested again and
began incubating on May 23 at the original nest site they
used last year. This time they stayed with their eggs. On
June 22, 2006, experts watching through binoculars saw that
the adult cranes' behavior had changed. The eggs had hatched! Twin chicks
were confirmed on June 23. What a celebration! The new Eastern
flock has its first family! Follow their story in our First
2007: The First Family (Dad #211, Mom #217, and
chick #W601) began migration from Florida on Feb. 23. No
further confirmed reports were received until March 20 when
the radio signals of 211 and 217 and their chick #W601 were
confirmed back on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin!
Their chick is the first wild-hatched chick in the eastern
migratory population, and the first to complete a roundtrip
migration by following her parents — a milestone for
the reintroduction of this new flock! By March 26, the chick
had separated from the parents (normal behavior). The adults
built a new nest and began incubating eggs on April 3. The
nest was later abandoned; they began building another nest
around May 17, but they did not hatch eggs this year.
On Feb. 15, 2008, the two adults left their territory and flew to visit their old "Chass" pen where the Class of 2007 now lives. The adults landed in the pen and the chicks immediately ran and flapped to them, attacking intruders who dared enter their territory. The adults took the hint and flew a short distance away, with chicks on their tails. They were chased from the pen in a matter of minutes, flying to the west to land in a nearby creek. They got the message and didn't come back!
Spring 2008: On either February 16 or 17 the pair left their winter territory. They were not tracked, but First Parents #211 and #217 were confirmed at Necedah NWR on March 25. The pair began incubating on April 7. Hopes for chicks were dashed when they deserted their nest on May 6, with 2 fertile eggs, after a surge of warm weather. This is the second time the pair has abandoned a nest.
Fall 2008: Began migration from Necedah NWR on November 15 with mate #217. They were found in Cherokee County, Alabama, at the end of December and beginning of January.
Spring 2009: Began migration from Cherokee County, Alabama, before March 8 with mate 217. Reported in Vermillion County, Indiana during March 9-14. (The refuge datalogger detected the presence of one bird at Necedah NWR on March 16.)
Pair #211 & 217 did a lot of flying between the pen site of the DAR chicks and the pen site of the ultralight chicks over the last weeks of summer and early fall.
Fall 2009: Pair #211 & 217 began migration from Necedah NWR with several other Whooping cranes on Nov. 26, migrating as a group before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. On Nov. 28 the pair was at one of their previously used stopovers in Vermillion County, Indiana. His mate was shot to death sometime between that sighting and Dec. 1 when her carcass was discovered. Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents are investigating the incident. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serviceand other groups are offering a reward to the person or people who provide information leading to a conviction. Successful breeding pairs mate for life, and now male #211 is without his mate. Experts are hoping he will find another female that he wants as his mate. As of December 26, he was still in Vermillion County, Indiana, alone. What will he do? Stay tuned.
Spring 2010: Male #211 (hereafter known as 11-02) was obseved back home on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 16! The male of the First Family is alone; his mate, #217, was shot in Indiana in December. He was observed unison-calling with#46-07 DAR on April 1, but the female apparently rejoined her mate #402 (hereafter known as 2-04) on East Rynearson Pool on the following day. He later joined up with female #830 (hereafter known as #30-08) and the two claimed as their territory the area where the Direct Autumn Release chicks were set free to associate with older Whooping cranes who could lead them south.
Fall 2010: Adult pair #11-02 (formerly #211) and #30=09 (formerly #830) were found in Vermillion County, Indiana on Dec. 2. Hooray for the older crane pair who showed young #19-10 DAR (Pepper Jack) the way! They were foraging in snowy cornfields. The adult pair had claimed the DAR introduction site at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge as their territory during the summer, so the young Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chick called Pepper Jack had followed them around and knew them well. Will these three continue together from Indiana to warmer grounds farther south? yes! They were in Cherokee County, Alabama until at least January 26 but were gone when the location was checked on February 1, 2011. The pair and young #19-10 DAR were reported in Madison County, Alabama at least through February 14 along with cranes 37-09 DAR, 25-10 DAR and 27-10 DAR.
Spring 2011: Left Madison County, Alabama sometime between Feb. 18-22 in a group with his mate #30-08 (formerly #830) and #19-10 (DAR) and cranes 37-09 DAR, 25-10 DAR and 27-10 DAR. They were reported in Crawford County, IL on March 8-10 and Mar. 14, and completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 21. Male 11-02 )#211 had 7 previous nests with another mate, but this year his new mate was female #30-08 (formerly #830). The pair built their first nest and began incubating on April 16. Their nest failed May 12 and they did not re-nest.
Fall 2011: Migrated to Vermillion County, Indiana with mate #30-08 (formerly #830).
Spring 2012: Male #11-02 returned March 7 to Necedah NWR for the summer nesting season, but he is without his mate, who died during the winter.
2013: Male (formerly #211) returned March 23 to Necedah NWR for the summer nesting season, but still without a new mate. ICF tracker Eva reports, "11-02 is on the prowl and has stolen #26-07 (formerly 726) away from #4-08 (formerly #804)...but this happened last spring as well, and it isn't over until there is a nest!" Sure enough, before May 3 the new pair had built a nest together, but it failed in early May when a heavy black-fly outbreak occurred and tormented many of the crane pairs off their nests.
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