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

Crane # 608

Date Hatched

May 13 , 2006



Date of Photo: June 16, 2006

Egg Source: PWRC

Permanent Leg Bands

Weight 9/06/06: 5.6 kg
  • 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: She came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 27 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. After a string of very hot days, on July 18 she wasn't in the mood for flight school. She was finally coaxed outside the pen after having missed 2 taxi runs up and down the runway. But she began to make progress in getting off the ground and following the trike. On Aug. 7 these birds flew three circuits and #608 was the only one who did not follow well. She was pokey this morning, and would only fly the length of the runway before settling down and waiting for the trike to catch up to her. Hmmmm, pokey or clever? Hard to say. But by August 15 she was flying up to 10 minutes in large circles over a big pool at the refuge without getting tired. By the end of August she was flying strong for 30 minutes or more with the other 7 birds in her group!

Laurie thinks #608 is an interesting bird: "She is stubborn and independent. She likes to make her own decisions."

First Migration South
: Chick #608 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 5th, 2006. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Read more about #608's migration below:

October 19: Chick #608 developed a small ulcer in her eye during the long stretch of down-days in Sauk County, WI. Laurie noticed it when the birds were let out of their pen to fly around for exercise. She slept most of the time, and spent most of the time off by herself. When she was around the other birds she was very submissive.
The veterinarian from ICF came and gave the team ointment to put on #608's eye twice daily. The next day she seemed much improved. She was blinking her ulcerated eye more normally. She was more alert and active, holding her head up and being less submissive to the other birds. At least all these down days have given #608 a chance to rest up and get better. By the time the weather changes, the team hopes she will be well enough to fly with her cohort.

Oct. 24: Hooray! In the best day so far for all the birds, #608 flew the whole distance, even with her recovering eye!

Oct. 26: When Marie and Bev checked the birds on this no-fly day, they noted "the medication seems to be doing the trick for 608 and she is coming along just fine."

Oct. 29: Flying with Chris, "608 lost the draft of the plane's wing within a few miles after departure and slowly lost altitude below the ultralight. Brooke was able to pick up #608 on his wing, and within 15 minutes she was back up to altitude. She had an easy flight with Brooke's wing all to herself. Brooke later wrote: "Flying with one bird holds a special intimacy not experienced with the larger group. It's special and powerful and it changes forever the way one thinks and feels about that bird. We climbed to 2000 feet and together gazed down as the textured rectangles of Illinois rolled out beneath us. Then it was over. We landed and it was time for each of us to rejoin our own flocks. I walked 608 into the pen with the others, and as the four of us pilots walked back towards our waiting trikes, I looked back to catch a glimpse of 608 one last time. From this day forward she will always be . . .'Number One' in the heart of . . .this fan."

Oct. 31: On this no-fly day, Marie reports: "608 has made a huge improvement with her eye. The ulcer is much reduced and she is holding her injured eye open just as much as the other. She no longer acts submissive and is back to her old self."

Jan. 12, Moving Day: #608 made it to Citrus County on the first moving day (Jan. 11), but dropped out and landed in a field before reaching Chass. With her was 602. 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 others where they'd landed in Citrus County--still 10 miles from the Chass pen. But they were all too tired to try again, so #608 and the others spent the night in a travel pen The next morning brought calm air, clear skies and cooperative birds. All the birds took off with Joe's plane and took their final flight with the ultralight: 18 minutes to their final winter home, where six of the flockmates arrived the day before.

Feb. 2, 2006: Crane 608 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).