Meet the New 2005 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2005 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 521

Date Hatched at Patuxent
(Egg from ICF)

May 31 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

July 13

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:
4.8 Kg

Right Leg:

G/W radio USFWS 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: 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!
his 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. Chick #521 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray!

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!

First Migration South
: Chick #521 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration to see what happens. She landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

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


Back to "Meet the Flock 2005"

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