Personality and History
Migration Training: During
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, "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 t!
In flight training, she tried hard to keep up, but can't quite do it. She lags behind, but only occasionally returns to the runway or lands in the marsh. She likes to chase the white birds (the adult whooping cranes). She's "kind of spunky" and will peck back at more dominant birds!
The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers. All took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then three birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---but when the pilot circled back around in hopes the dropouts would take off and follow again, all three became airborne and followed before dropping out again. Not #521--who hung in there all the way!
On January 10, Crane #521 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #521 but only 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the final 26 miles.
Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. The flock split, with #521 and #511 staying in Turner County, GA on March 28. The two were last recorded there on March 30. Trackers had to leave these two birds behind in order to track the others. At 4:00 PM April 19, the radio signals #511 and #521 were detected over Necedah NWR. They had just completed their first spring migration!
Fall 2006: She began migration (together with male 514) on Nov. 11. They roosted in Kane County, IL before continuing migration against a headwind on Nov. 12. At last report they roosted in Ford County, IL. Then detected in flight in Citrus County, Florida (home!) with #505 and #506 on Nov. 25.
Remains of Crane #521 were found in her wintering area in Citrus County, Florida, on February 20, 2007. Telemetry data indicated that her death occurred between 9 and 12 February. Bobcat predation is suspected.
Last updated: 2/21/07
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