Personality and History: Scroll Down for Most Current
their first weeks, 519, 521, 522, and 523 trained well together at
the circle pen. "These guys are hilarious," reported trainer
Mark Nipper at Patuxent WRC. "They run in a tight little bunch
in the circle. They are constantly knocking into each other and a
couple of them really compete to be the closest to the trike. After
a few minutes, they will start getting tired and hot, or just lazy,
and break up a little. There is usually a bird in every group that
will linger behind and forage on its own. For a long time, I thought
that 519 was that bird. Lately, however, each bird has been taking
a turn at this "lagging" behavior." On July 10, Mark
said, "Lately 519 has decided it doesn't like me and is trying
to beat me up all the time. Today we have had a breakthrough with
these chicks out at the pond. We have not been able to leave the
pen without them becoming highly stressed and pacing along the fences.
This leads to banged up faces and raw spots on the body from rubbing.
The birds will stick their heads through the fence if they can. All
of this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy.
What we trainers usually do is take turns sitting in the pen with them. It is
really pretty fun to hang out with the birds and just let them do their own thing
in the water. They usually take baths and are running around all over the place
trying to catch everything that moves. It is very important, though, that they
be able to spend time away from us. Once we're all moved to the reintroduction
site at Necedah NWR, we try to spend as little time as possible with the birds.
That time becomes less and less as we get closer to migration. We hope this helps
the chicks to be less attached to us and allows them to just be birds."
On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #519 (along with 511, 520, and 524) were the stragglers and they came back to the runway. She's still a submissive bird.
September 28, the crew had a surprise. Angie said, "#519 has always been a relatively submissive bird but has suddenly become pretty gutsy. She will chase almost any bird that comes near her, but will generally back down to other more dominant birds. In fact, a couple of days ago, we noticed that she was missing a patch of feathers on the left side of her face. We guess that she tried to take on one of the more aggressive birds and paid for it with a few feathers. The feathers are growing back nicely now, and we think she learned a valuable lesson because she has been a little more mellow the past few days."
The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Not until the third day of trying (January 11) did #519 follow the ultralights over to Chass. HOME! After being at the Chass release site for a week, the birds were let out of the top-netted pen to exercise. (They had not yet been "turned loose" full time.) From the pen, Mark Nipper reported: "#519 was one of the birds that flew. When she landed she came down on the other side of the pen, and as usual, she didn't make it easy for us to get her back into the pen."
At Chass, #519 seemed very scared and nervous.
Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)
Fall 2006: #519 (along with 510, 511, 512 and 307) began migration from Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on November 9 and made it to northern Illinois that night. Next report was January 2, when they were found in Levy County, FL!
Spring 2007: Began migration on March 28 with #105. They arrived on #105's old territory at Necedah NWR on April 16!
Fall 2007: She left on migration with male #408 on November 27. Crane 519 (along with 408 and 512) completed migration and arrived in Florida on December 4. She was found with #408 and #514 in Hillsborough County, FL on Dec. 19.
Spring 2008: After wintering south of Tampa, #408, #514 and #519 were the first cranes to begin their journey north on February 26. A March 18 report of three whooping cranes in Morrison County, Minnesota, may have been these birds. On March 30, #519 and #408 were observed on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. It was later determined they arrived on March 27. The pair was reported nesting on the refuge and it appeared on April 23 as if they had just begun to incubate. The nest failed on or before May 5, when it was found empty.
Fall 2008: She migrated with mate #408 in a group of other whoopers that reached Alachua County, Florida by Dec. 31/January 1. The group stayed together at the wintering site.
Spring 2009: During aerial checks of this wintering group on February 25 and March 4, #519's signal was not detected and only 8 birds (including 519's mate, #408), were observed. Crane #519 was last recorded alive at this location on February 21. Trackers suspected she may have died — until she was reported in Greene County, Indiana during March 9-15 with male 408! (Her transmitter does not work so she can't be tracked.) The signal of #408 was heard on Necedah NWR March 19 and a week later #519 was also confirmed there. Wonderful news! It got even better when the pair was found April 8 incubating on a nest. (Nest failed before eggs could hatch when black flies tormented the parents off the nest.) In late May trackers located a possible re-nest of this pair, but they did not become parents and spent the rest of the summer in the same area.
Fall 2009: Crane #519 and mate #408 had not yet begun migration as of Nov. 30 but they did migrate and spent winter in their old territory in Alachua County, Florida, where they remained at least until Feb. 16.
Spring 2010: Crane #519 and mate #408 were detected at Armstrong Bend, Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, on February 25. They arrived in Greene County, Indiana by March 14 and remained there until departure March 18-22. They were reported back on Necedah NWR by March 24 and observed on a nest during an aerial survey on April 5.
Fall 2010: She migrated with her mate #408 to their previous winter territory in Alachua County, Florida. They apparently split as winter ended.
2011: Female #519
started a new chapter in her life! She left her mate
#408 during the winter. She was sometimes seen after
that with a male Whooping crane from the Florida
flock (see glossary for
more on this flock). While her former mate #804 completed
migration back to Wisconsin
by March 29, #519 stayed in Florida until at least
March 24, still
associating with the non-migratory male (#1343).
On April 7, tracker Eva received a photo of #519 and nonmigratory male #1343. SURPRISE! The photo was taken that evening at a location in Monroe County, Indiana—which means male #1343 is migrating north with #519! "Must be love," said Eva. (Male #1343 nested on Paynes Prairie, Florida, last year, but his mate and the two chicks that hatched were all killed by predators. MORE) What might happen when this female returns to her former territory with a new male? (Her previous mate #408 is associating with female 908 on their old territory.)
On April 10 female #519 was reported back on Necedah NWR but it was not confirmed whether the male was with her. On April 13 female #519 was located with her old mate, #408. Because #1343 doesn't have a functional transmitter and can't be tracked, his whereabouts can only be known if there is a sighting. Biologist Tom Stehn predicts he will spend summer in Wisconsin and go back to Florida in the fall. (He didn't wait! he was already back in Florida with his old mate in May.) What do you think will happen next with #519 and #408? They built a nest and began incubating on April 25! But their nest failed on May 9.
Fall 2011: Migrated with #408 to Greene County, Indiana.
Spring 2012: She was reported back on Necedah NWR with #408 on March 16, migration complete. They were found incubating on an April 26 nesting survey flight by trackers. The first nest failed but they nested again on May 14 and were still incubating May 29.
Spring 2013: Completed spring migration with #408 on March 30.
Last updated: 4/06/13
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