Personality and History (Scroll to bottom for current news)
Personality Characteristics: Usually quiet little chick. According to Dan, she doesn't like smelt for a treat — a very unusual trait! But just see what this chick did later in her history-making life:
Fall 2002: Successfully finished her 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.
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. Five of them, including #217, split from the group and moved to the same area of Pasco County that #101 and #102 occupied in winter 2002.
2004: Left Florida on spring migration around March 13,
together with #101, 102, 205, 208, and 216. PTT
readings indicated the group roosted in Indiana on March
and moved to DeKalb County, IL March 23. They arrived home
at Necedah NWR on April 1, 2004.
Spring 2006: Crane #217 (together
with #211) began migration from a cattle ranch in
Pasco County, Florida
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
This pair nested again and began incubating on
at the original nest site they used last
year. This time they stayed with
their eggs. On June 22, 2006,
saw that the adult cranes' behavior had changed.
The eggs had hatched! Twin chicks were confirmed
The new Eastern flock has its first family! Follow
their story in our First Family photo slide show.
2007: The First Family (Mom #217, Dad #211, and chick
#W601) began migration from Florida on Feb. 23. No further confirmed
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
from the parents (normal behavior). The adults built a new nest
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 (parents of W601) 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 #211. 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 #211. 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. Were they lonely?
Fall 2009: Female #217 was captured for transmitter replacement on October 19. She and mate #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.
Female #217 was killed shortly after this sighting. Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents are conducting a joint investigation into the incident. The crane was shot sometime between Saturday, Nov. 28, when it was observed by Eva Szyszkoski, ICF Tracking Field Manager, and Tuesday, Dec. 1, when ICF tracking intern Jess Thompson found the carcass. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a minimum reward of $2,500 to the person or people who provide information leading to a conviction. Anyone with information should call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources 24-hour hotline at: 1-800 TIP IDNR (800-847-4367), or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 317-346-7016. Callers can remain anonymous.
She and her mate (#211) nested during each of the past 5 springs on Necedah NWR. They hatched two chicks and fledged one (no. W1-06) in 2006, and they hatched one chick in 2009. Crane #211 and #217 were known as the "first family" in the new Eastern flock. This is a huge loss and very sad news indeed.
Back to "Meet the Flock 2002"