Photo: Operation Migration
Meet the New 2003 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2003 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 301

Date Hatched




Date Arrived in Wisconsin


Permanent Leg Bands
PTT (left) G/R  (right) 
  • Read about the naming system, birth place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida and leg-band codes.

Personality and History

Migration Training: The oldest crane but one of the smallest. Very attentive and the best follower. Usually ran along near the right side of the trike during taxi-training. Might be the lowest-ranking female, but that may change when the whole flock gets combined and works out their pecking order.

First Migration South: Flew all but 33.1 miles with the ultralight.

Spring 2004:
She was the first of all her flock mates to attain her adult voice (Jan, 2004) during the winter. Began first migration north at 9:33 a.m. March 30, 2004 in a group of eight 2003 flock mates (301, 303, 305, 309, 312, 316, 318, 319). They flew on Mar. 31 and April 1. They stayed in Macon County, NC. until afternoon of April 3, when trouble arrived. The cranes were discovered and harassed by 5 humans who came right up to them. They flushed, and one crane hit a power line. Fortunately the bird was able to keep flying. The group circled for 1.5 hours before heading north, flying after darkness fell. Their location was unknown for the next two nights. The group of 8 was found in a farm field in southwestern Ohio after dark on April 5, thanks to the help of PTT readings and an airplane search. They flew on to west central Ohio on April 6. They stayed there again April 7, after taking off but returning again after #303 did not join them in flight, and again on April 8. On April 9 the group flew westward and separated south of Celina, Ohio. The group of five (301, 305, 309, 318, and 319) roosted in a marsh in southwest Michigan. The five departed April 10 under clear skies. After some lingering when they came to Lake Michigan, they turned south, following the shoreline of the lake for more than an hour before settling to roost in a large marsh in the southwest area of the state. April 11 they left, flew across the border to Indiana and then into Ohio and returned the same day to West-central Michigan, where they remained all summer on an unfamiliar side of Lake Michigan.

Fall 2004: Cranes 301, 305, 309 and 318 began migration from Mason County, Michigan and moved south into Ohio on November 7. They appeared to be retracing their spring path until they detoured to South Carolina where #305 was killed, likely by a predator, on Nov. 13/14. Perhaps spooked by seeing the death of their flock mate, #301 (with #309 and #318) moved northward the next day to Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center in Georgetown County, South Carolina. After several short northward flights, the three began moving south. Were found inland in Jones County, NC on Nov. 20. They wintered in NC.

Spring 2005:
Departed Jones County, NC on migration March 30 with #309 and #318. Seen April 6 with #309 and #318 in western New York state, just across the Penn. border. They apparently followed the Lake Michigan lakeshore NE. The group had been reported in flight along the south shore of Lake Erie near Ripley, New York, on 6 April. This would mean they would have to somehow get around two of the Great Lakes to make it home. On April 15 the three were confirmed in Ontario, east of Lake Huron. They will most likely be returned to Wisconsin in an attempt to reorient them. With two of the Great Lakes separating them from the core introduction area, there is little likelihood they would make it back on their own. For now, they need to be in proximity to the rest of the population. The more opportunity they have to mingle, the greater the chance of proper mate selection and eventually breeding. A PTT reading indicated that #301 roosted in Algonquin Provincial Park near the Quebec border on the night of 16 April and then left the following morning. Low-quality readings for #301 on April 17-20 showed movement southbound to near the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The next reported sighting of #301 and 318 was on April 22 in a harvested cornfield on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. The two were still there on 25 April but the third crane, #309, has not been reported with them since 14 April. On April 27, #301 and #318 left Owen Sound and were seen near Tobermory (northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario). Next confirmed in Chippewa Cty. on April 29. Then poor quality PTT readings in mid May indicate they had flown southward into the north-central Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Sure enough, #301 and #318 were finally confirmed by a citizen sighting 22 May in central Missaukee Co, MI. On the evening of June 30, #301 and #318 were successfully captured in Michigan by WCEP trackers. They were transported by aircraft to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and released. Both birds appear to be well. Hooray!

Fall 2005: Began migration Nov. 17 with #311. They later joined in flight with #102 & #212, #203 & #317. The group roosted that night in Will County, IL. They flew Nov. 18 to SW of Indianapolis, Indiana. They were all still at this Marion County, IN stopover site in mid-December. On Dec. 20, a pair of whoopers that might have been #301/#311were sighted on Colleton County, SC. The pair arrived at the Chassahowitzka pen site on Dec. 22. They stayed in the pen area and made several short flights in the next few days.

Spring 2006: Still in SC on March 23 but this bird (with #311??) may be one of the two reported back in Michigan April 2. This was the same general area occupied by#301 and #318 in 2004 and 2005 before the latter two birds were retrieved and re-released in Central Wisconsin early last summer (2005).

Fall 2006: She was captured in Wisconsin on Nov. 8 by the crane team to replace her radio transmitter before she left on migration. Her nervous mate (#311) watched, but all went smoothly. She and mate #311 began migration Nov. 19 and made it to Kankakee County in NE Illinois that night. They successfully migrated to their winter territory in Colleton County, South Carolina, where they were reported in December.

Spring 2007: Left SC on migration (with #311) on March 24. She and mate and #311 arrived on their territory on Necedah NWR on March 29. On September 28 the intact carcass of #301 was discovered. Tracking data indicated that she probably died on the night of September 25. Experts later thought she had been killed by an eagle. Her mate left the pair's summer territory the next day.

Last updated: 10/23/07

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