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DIRECT AUTUMN RELEASE (DAR) BIRDS

This chick will get a permanent leg band at about 7 months of age.

Naming System
Each Eastern flock bird--whether ultralight-led, DAR, or wild-born--has a number that becomes its lifelong "name." The number tells something about the bird. For DAR birds, the first digits stands for the order in which these chicks hatched. The last two digits stand for the hatch year (2005). So, #27-05 was the 27th chick to hatch in '05. Gaps in the number system happen when a chick dies. Gaps also happen if a chick is removed from the flock and raised as a breeding bird.


Meet this year's DAR chicks!
#27-05, #28-05, #32-05, and #33-05.


Birth Place
The chicks for this release were raised at ICF’s new isolation-rearing facility. Three of the eggs came from birds at ICF, and one egg came from birds at Patuxent. The valuable eggs hatch in the care of experts. They are watched over very carefully.
Eggs from captive whooping cranes
Costumed trainers use crane puppets to help train the new chicks .


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Marianne Wellington raised the DAR chicks.
Photo ICF

Release Site
When they were about one month old, the birds were transferred to the Necedah NWR. Marianne Wellington is a chick-rearing specialist who wore a costume and raised the chicks there. They fledged (could fly) at around 70 days of age. Unlike their cousins for the ultralight-led migration, the DAR chicks are allowed to roam freely on the refuge. Marianne and other costumed "parents" check on them many times during the day. At night the chicks are safe in a big pen with a pond and a net over the top. In October, the chicks are set free on the refuge near the adult whooping cranes in hopes they'll follow them on the journey south.


Over-wintering Site
In October, as experts hoped, these chicks followed adult cranes leaving for their winter home in Florida. Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home for the whole Eastern flock. Here the DAR chicks will see older whooping cranes who also migrated from Wisconsin.

The Eastern flock's winter home
A view from the sky
Wild and free

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Leg-band Codes
Every crane in the new Eastern flock wears unique color-coded leg bands on one leg. Like names for humans, the banding codes identify each crane for life. Experts keep detailed histories on each of these endangered birds. The banding codes help them tell the birds apart. The DAR chicks got their permanent bands before they were set free to follow the older cranes when they leave.

Each also wears green-over-white radio transmitter bands on one leg. The three 2005 DAR females got still another band and transmitter--this one a PTT for satellite tracking. For more information, see Tracking Cranes. Like other members of the new Eastern flock, the 2005 DAR chicks are epected to migrate back to Wisconsin in the spring, every spring for the rest of their lives.

Meet this year's DAR chicks! #527, #528, #532, and #533.




Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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