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

Crane # 523

Date Hatched

June 1 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

July 13

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:
6.2 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."
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 this is pretty common for a while, but these guys seem particularly clingy. 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 #523 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!

The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group of struggling young flyers, which was probably a result of the health check. 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. #523 held up and flew the distance.

He is large is size, but not in attitude. He usually blends in with the crowd, but sometimes challenges other birds. He loves to chase adults. He has a chronic deep peep. He used to resist returning to the pen, but is getting better.

First Migration South
: Chick #523 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration to see what happens.

Here is more news about Chick #523's first migration:

On Day 13 (Oct. 26) #523 got tired, dropped out, and had to be crated and moved the final 6 miles to the pen in LaSalle County, IL. On Nov. 30 he wouldn't follow the ultralight. He kept turning back to Hiwassee with a small group of other cranes who didn't want to leave the nice marshes at Hiwassee. He was put in a crate and driven to the next stopover site.

On Dec. 13, #523 landed safely with the 19-bird flock at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the release pen.

The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9, but only #508 made it on this day. On the second day of trying (January 10), six more made it. The pilots tried again on January 11 to get the remaining cranes over to Chass. Crane #523 and all the rest of the birds EXCEPT #516 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!

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., but spent the summer in the core reintroduction area.)

Fall 2006: Making their first all migration after learning from the ultralights, #523 and #524 left Necedah NWR, undetected, on October 22. They were found north of the Halpata pen site (site of their layover last year) in Marion County, FL Nov. 22! They were in Levy County through Jan. 10 and not with sandhill cranes. When next checked on Jan. 13, the signal of 523 was detected staying in one place but the signal of 524 was no longer detected.

Spring 2007: Crane 523 remained in Levy County, where he was seen alone on March 1 during an aerial survey. He was still there April 7. His weak radio signal was detected during an aerial survey of the area on April 21 and April 29 but the crane was not seen. A ground search was conducted and his remains were found May 4, 2007, in Big Wolf Arbor, Levy County, Florida. He had been dead for several weeks, likely the victim of an alligator attack.

Last updated: 5/7/07


Back to "Meet the Flock 2005"


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