Meet the New 2006 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2006 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 602 (#2-06)

Date Hatched

May 5 , 2006



Date of Photo: May 13, 2006

Egg Source: NNWR

  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.

Personality and History

Migration Training: #602 was the very first chick hatched from an egg laid by wild parents in the Eastern flock! Everyone was thrilled to welcome her. Here's a picture of her taking a nap. She had a sister (#603) who didn't make it into the ultralight flock because she died at the age of 45 days.

When she was really little, she got scared when the ultralight engine started up. She was nervous in the circle pen when she was supposed to walk in a big circle, following the plane as it drove slowly around the outside of the pen. But all her terror vanished if she spied something good to eat. She has always liked the water and jumps right in to bathe and forage. She came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 27, 2006 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks.

Hopping and flopping behind the ultralight plane during training on July 18, #602 got airborne and flew about 15 feet off the ground! Pilot Chris said, "She looked rather proud of herself after she managed to make a less-than-spectacular landing." Hooray! He was very proud that the first wild egg to hatch took her first flight under his plane's wing. No wonder she's his favorite chick! On July 20, #602 immediately got airborne behind the trike and flew the entire length of the runway!

By August 15 she was flying up to 10 minutes in large circles over a big pool at the refuge. Pilot Chris says, "We do large looping circuits back to the pen site so birds can land if they are getting tired. After landing, we have been finding that the birds recover very quickly and are ready for more."

She's not aggressive any more, like she was as a tiny chick. But she does have a mind of her own. On September 18 she didn't want to follow the ultralight when her cohort was finally being led over to join all the rest of the chicks. She and 606 were left behind to think things over by themselves. Two days later they were happy to join their flockmates, and now the whole group is together at one pen site.


First Migration South
: Chick #602 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 5th, 2006. She was one of the 17 birds who flew the whole first leg of the journey, and land safely at at Stopover #1! Chicks #601 and #602 are the oldest, and they seem to be what most older siblings should be: good role models for their other flockmates. "These two always seem to do what they need to and seldom get into any mischief, said Marie. Here's more news about 602's first migration:

Oct 14: To entertain the birds when they were stuck 4 days at Stopover #2, the team gave them some corn cobs. See #602 in the photo!

Oct. 15: Near the end of today's flight, chick #602 broke off and pilot Chris went after her. She landed about a mile short of the finish line at Stopover #3. Chris set down nearby and tried to get her back up flying. But she was having NO part of it. Chris let her rest 20 minutes before trying again. She still wasn't interested. Chris radioed the ground crew to bring a crate to take her the rest of the way.

Oct. 23: After 7 days of being penned, #602 wasn't at the top of her game. She had trouble with a ridge, landed with Joe to rest, and then dropped out again after the second take off. The owner of the corn field she was in spotted her when his dog's barking got his attention. Crane #602 obviously got startled by the barking dog and people who looked like, well – people, and she hid in the cornfield. Marie and Bev walked into the field and started a search pattern at one end, while Sara and Laurie walked along the edge using a tracking device and vocalizer to send out brood calls. Eventually we spotted 602 at the far end of the field. She was struggling her way out and moving toward us in a hurry. It was a long walk to the crate but she followed us very closely and we were relieved that her adventure was over.She was crated and driven to the next stopover.

Jan. 12, Moving Day: #602 made it only part way on the first moving day (Jan. 11). She dropped out with #608 and landed in a field before reaching Chass. Brooke searched on foot (in his costume) and found the birds. He led them to a small clearing behind some trees to keep them safely hidden. Soon a dirt biker zoomed through the grass less than 100 yards away. Brooke and two scared birds hunkered down to avoid detection. Four hours later, Chris and tracker Stacey found Brooke and the birds. They crated the birds and drove them to join the other tired dropouts now in a travel pen in Citrus County—still 10 miles from the Chass pen. The next morning in calm air and clear skies, #602 and the other 11 chicks who hadn't cooperated yesterday took off with Joe's plane. Their final flight with the ultralight lasted 18 charming minutes. They landed at their final winter home at "Chass," where six flockmates had arrived the day before. Migration complete!

Feb. 2, 2006: Crane 602 died when violent storms moved through central Florida during the night, killing all 17 chicks in the pen at Chass. Only #615 somehow managed to escape.

Last updated: 2/4/07


Back to "Meet the Flock 2006"

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