Photo: Operation Migration
Meet the New 2004 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2004 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 418

Date Hatched

May 19 , 2004



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

June 30, 2004

Permanent Leg Bands
  • 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: Introduced to the trike at 8-days. Received 6 hrs & 30 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent. Gets along great with #417. Follows the plane well, but is a runt and bully! Likes mealworms so much that he chases off the older, larger chicks to get the worms. Once got beat up by #412 for biting its wing hard. Primary feathers began falling out early in August. Traveled in a crate (he couldn't fly without primary feathers) to join flock mates when cohorts 2 and 3 joined together on Sept. 3. Doctors hope a new set will grow in so #418 can continue flight training and be included in fall migration. It didn't happen. He also showed less interest in the costume and ultralight—a worrisome situation. The team decided just before migration that #418, who has plenty of confidence and spunk but could not complete the necessary ultralight conditioning, will not migrate with flock mates. Instead he will be left behind in hopes that he'll join up with some experienced ultra-whoopers on the refuge and follow them to Florida, thus learning the route. This has worked with sandhill cranes. Will the older ultra-whoopers accept him? Or will they drive him off or battle him? Here's his story:

First Migration South
: On November 7 he left on migration with yearling #307, an older crane who knows the way. The two landed to roost in west-central Indiana. Unfortunately, #307 then took off again. The next day the airborne tracking team followed #418's signal and saw him flying in a flock of Sandhill cranes. Then they also noticed another whooping crane in the flock! Unable to detect any other radio signals, they concluded that his travel mate was the only crane among the 35 wild birds that is not trackable because of a dead battery in her transmitter. It's the elusive female #107 from the very first ultralight-led migration!  But as roost time neared, #418 landed along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, while #107 kept going. Both stayed at their chosen locations on Nov. 9th due to poor migration conditions. On Nov. 10 at 9:45 a.m., #418 lifted off with a flock of sandhill cranes. They arrived in early afternoon at the Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN. Later in the day #418 foraged within 1/4 mile of females #107 AND #201. He shouldn't have any trouble locating others of his kind; including him, SEVEN of the Eastern flock's glowing white whooping cranes are now at this crane-friendly refuge in Tennessee—halfway to Florida. He was still at Hiwassee with 4 older ultracranes when this year's chicks completed their migration on Dec. 12. He resumed migration from Hiwassee with #205 on December 19th. About January 3 they finally settled in Pasco County, FL near where #205 spent last winter. They are on a ranch where ultra-cranes #211, 212 and 217 are wintering.
Male #418 was the first crane in the eastern migratory flock to successfully complete fall migration to Florida by following older Whooping cranes.

Spring 2005: This young male was left alone after #205, an older male he had been hanging out with over the winter, departed on migration from their Pasco County, FL wintering site sometime between March 9 - 12. Crane #418 was then either alone or with single or paired non migratory sandhill cranes. He likely began migration on April 18, as PTT data on April 19 put him in Forsyth Co., GA. PTT readings put him in Scott County, Indiana on the nights of April 22-27. He moved to Fulton County, IN on April 28. He stayed there until May 8 when he flew to Cook County, IL. On May 10, he left a stop in metro-Chicago (Cook County, IL) and migrated to Washington County, WISCONSIN! Left Dodge County and arrived Necedah NWR May 16. Migration complete!

On June 14, he joined females #419 and #420.

On July 16, 2005, his remains were found by tracker Lara Fondow under an electrical transmission line in a cornfield in central Wisconsin. His death, caused by collision with the power line, likely happened between July 1 - 11. It was a sad ending for a brave pioneer.

Last updated: 07/28/05

Back to "Meet the Flock 2004"

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