Meet the 2002 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2002 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 216 (#16-02)

Date Hatched

May 17 , 2002



Pre-migratory Weight: 6.0 kg.


  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.

Personality and History (Scroll to bottom for current news)

Personality Characteristics: Always the runt as a chick, but grew to become one of the largest males. Good flyer. Third most-dominant male. As a chick he wanted to fight anything that moved, but later was a good, normal bird. One of the pilots' favorite flyers.


Fall 2002: Completed the journey south with ultralights and the Class of 2002. During the first winter in Florida, Sara said, "He's a large male and is somewhere in the middle of the hierarchy, but is rather mellow and doesn't seek out challenges or fights."

Spring 2003: Left Florida on first journey north April 1, 2003 with 14 other whoopers and returned successfully to Wisconsin on April 13. Spent the summer about 15 miles from Necedah NWR with flock mates #217, 202, 211, 212 and 213.

Fall 2003: Began migration on Nov. 13 with six flock mates and #102. This group of eight arrived at the "Chass" pen site in FLorida on November 21, 2003. During their entire journey south, the group stayed together and was never seen migrating with sandhill cranes. This group moved to Pasco County shortly after arriving in FL. Five of them, including #216, split from the group and moved to the area of Pasco County that #101 and #102 occupied in winter 2002.

Spring 2004: Left on spring migration around March 13, 2004, together with #101, 102, 205, 208, and 217. PTT readings indicated the group roosted in SW Indiana on March 22, but moved to DeKalb County, IL March 23. The group arrived back at Necedah NWR on April 1, 2004.

Fall 2004: Cranes #216 (with 203 and 215) began migration from Monroe County, Wisconsin, on November 21. They left Greene County, Indiana on December 14. They roosted that night along a river in Davidson County, Tennessee. On Dec. 15 the trio flew to Limestone County, Alabama, remaining in harvested cornfields and floodings there until Dec. 23. Crane #215 then left them, but #216 and 203 arrived at the winter pen site on the afternoon of Dec. 28. Moved to a ranch in Lake County, FL for most of the winter.

Spring 2005: #216 Began migration with #203 during March 22-24. In summer and fall, he spent time with #303 on Necedah NWR.

Fall 2005: Began migration Nov. 17 with #303. They were tracked into northern IL, but their roost site was not determined. No further reports until they arrived at their old Florida pen site on December 14. They moved later to a ranch in nearby Pasco County, FL.

Spring 2006: #216 left Florida around March 6 with #303. They were reported March 19 in Tennessee. Male #216 and his mate, #303, were the only one of last year's breeding pairs that had not arrived on their territory in Central Wisconsin by April 7. #216 was reported that day in central Minnesota. The location and fate of #303 was not known until, amazingly, she turned up at Necedah NWR on April 12. The pair's separation may have been related to severe storms that occurred during migration. Crane #216 stayed in Minnesota for the rest of that week. On April 18 at 4:14 PM, he landed within his territory on Necedah NWR! His injury was apparent. Read what happened (video clip too). By April 20 he had moved to the Mill Bluff State Park area. On April 21 he returned to his territory at Necedah NWR and rejoined #303. The pair stayed together and returned to Mill Bluff on April 22. But he soon lost his territory at Necedah AND his his mate, #303, to young bachelor #408. Male #216 recovered during the summer and currently occupies the area adjacent to and east of his former territory.

Fall 2006: #216 left Wisconsin on Nov. 19 with #516 and 32-05 (DAR) and made it that night to SE Indiana. Both other birds made it to Florida, but #216 went off on his own path. He migrated successfully and was on his wintering area on a cattle ranch in Pasco County, FL in December.

#102 and #216 March 24, 2007 in Illinois.
Photo Dan Thompson

Spring 2007: He began migration March 5 (with #102). Crane #216 was found at Necedah NWR on March 26. He had separated from #102.

Fall 2007: Crane #216 joined with #303 and #317 around Necedah NWR on Nov. 20 and left with them on migration on November 22. He wintered in Pasco County, Florida.

Spring 2008: Began spring migration on February 29. He was first seen on the refuge back in Wisconsin on April 2. He has a nonfunctional transmitter, so it was a thrilling sight!

#216 (outside the pen) visited #735 in her recovery pen at Necedah.
Photos Colleen Wisinski, ICF
#216 gives the unison call. See how his head is thrown back as he calls. (Click to enlarge.)

Alarm Calling. (Click to enlarge.) Photo Eva Szyszkoski

Crane #216 got a new radio transmitter in October, before fall migration.

Male #216 led the way on '08 fall migration for 4 DAR chicks' first migration, and returned with them in spring '09.

Photo Eva Syzszkoski

Fall 2008: On November 17 crane #216 began migration along with 2008 DAR chicks 31-08, 32-08, 36-08, and 38-08 and roosted that night near Ogle County, Illinois! They were still in northern Illinois as of Dec. 1. On Dec. 5 they arrived in Lawrence County, Tennessee, where they remained. Will #216 lead these young chicks all the way to Florida and teach them the flock's migration route? They were still there, in good crane habitat, in January. Good job, 216!

Spring 2009: Trackers think #216 left on migration with his wintering group of four DAR youngsters, since DAR #31-08 began migration north from Lawrence County, TN on March 17th or 18th. PTT data indicated that he (and probably the four DAR birds) stopped in Gallatin County, IL on March 18 and Rock Island County, IL on March 20. The group likely reached home on the night of March 22, as all were confirmed at Necedah on March 23. Biologists celebrate the fact that all four DAR birds continue to associate with Whooping cranes and not hang out solely with Sandhill cranes. Good job, #216! This male began closely associating with female #716 by March 27 and the two were observed unison calling on that day. But the match did not last and they had parted by mid June. But not for long...

Fall 2009: Crane #216 left Necedah NWR on migration November 26, migrating in a group with several other departing Whooping cranes before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. Then male 216 and female #716 continued with 512/722 and (DAR) 38-09. The group was located by aerial survey while in flight over Clark County, Illinois, on Nov. 27. They landed to roost in Lawrence County, Illinois, and on Nov. 28 continued ~20 miles SE to Knox County, Indiana. They were still there Feb. 6.

Spring 2010: Crane pair 216/716, pair 512/722, and 38-09 (DAR) remained along the Wabash River, in Knox County, Indiana until they began migration on March 17. A low precision PTT reading for #722 indicated a roost location in Dane County, Wisconsin, on the night of March 20. Were the others with her? Male #216 was reported back on Necedah NWR by March 24 but his mate #716 separated from him (again!) and apparently paired with #316 (for now).

Fall 2010: Male #216 (!6-02), back again with mate 716 (16-07) were reported with cranes #804 (4-08) and #910 (10-09) in Knox County, Indiana, on November 28. They remained there at least through December 10. They were found at a previous wintering area of #216 in Lawrence Co, Tennessee on February 8. The area had not been checked earlier, and they may have been here since moving from Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2011: Male #216 (16-02) and mate 716 (16-07) March 1 and were reported in Wayne County, Illinois, where they remained at least through March 4. The pair had completed migration to the Wisconsin core area by March 21. Soon this pair was nesting for the first time! But alas, they weren't on their nest when it was checked on April 24. One egg was removed from the nest but unfortunately the egg was already cold and as a result unlikely to be viable.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #716 to Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Male #216 (assumed to be with his mate #716) was detected in flight March 15 with several other Whooping cranes as they headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—close to Necedah NWR. They were sitting on a nest on April 5. That nest failed but they had a second nest by May 7 and Chick W9-12 hatched on June 5! The chick did not survive the summer.

Fall 2012: On Nov. 21 he and his mate #716 were discovered in Gibson County, Indiana. Also present there were pair #512 /#722 and males #919 and #25-10 DAR.

Spring 2013: Male #16-02 and his mate #16-07 completed spring migration March 30. They soon had a nest together, but it failed and they re-nested. This nest, too, was abandoned but both eggs were rescued and taken to ICF for incubation. The eggs successfully hatched May 17 and May 18 to become chicks #7-13 and #8-13 for the Class of 2013 ultralight-led fall migration.

Fall 2013: Male #16-02 and his mate #16-07 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana, where they were last reported through Feb. 2014, with #19-09. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on Feb. 12, 2014 with support from Windway Aircraft:

Pair #16-02 and 16-07 on wintering grounds in Gibson County, Indiana on Feb. 12, 2014

Spring 2014: Male #16-02 and his mate #16-07 completed spring migration to Necedah NWR March 28. The pair nested in Juneau County, and the nest was still active as of April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Male #16-02 was captured for transmitter replacement on September 16. A health check was also performed. They looked at the condition of his wing feathers and also his leg, which was broken several years ago. His leg shows thickening from the healing process.

Crane #16-02's leg, showing Photo Eva Szyszkoski

Crane #16-02 and mate #16-07 began fall migration from Necedah on November 8th, 2014. They wintered in Gibson County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Pair #16-02 and #16-07 returned to Necedah NWR and nested. Those first eggs were removed Aprl 16 by experts in the forced renesting program, but their second nest produced chick W21-15 on June 1 and W22 on June 2. One chick (W22) survived and was seen alive on June 23. Here's a parent and chick on June 8. One chick survived and was seen alive on June 23, but did not survive to fledge.

W21-15 on June 8, 2015, six days of age

Fall 2015: Male #16-02 and his mate #16-07 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana.

Spring 2016: Pair #16-02 and #16-07 were observed back on territory at Necedah NWR by the March 30 aerial survey flight. The pair were observed on a nest on a May 19 survey flight. Their new chick, W18-16, hatched on June 5 but did not survive into the summer.

#16-02 and #16-07 with their chick in June 2016

Fall 2016: Pair #16-02 and #16-07 were still in Wisconsin as of Nov. 25 but male #16-02 was reported on wintering grounds in Gibson County, Indiana in late December.

Spring 2017: Back for summer in Juneau County, Wisconsin, male #16-02 is currently a "lonely old bachelor," noted Operation Migration's Heather Ray.


Last updated: 6/1/17

Back to "Meet the Flock 2002"


Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).