Personality and History
Migration Training: Chick #612 is the "top crane," the dominant bird in his group. After this cohort got to Wisconsin for flight school, he was still aggressive and in charge. After two days off due to hot weather, #612 lagged behind all day or took off into the swamp. Pilot Richard tossed out grapes from the puppet while taxiing down the runway to try to coax #612 to follow. By the end of the session, he was following the trike with his 4 other cohort-mates. By July 28, he was bounding along after the ultralight with longer and longer strides.
By Aug. 7 the whole group is doing well, flying half circuits behind the trike then landing in the swamp. Most of the birds, including #612, will then quickly walk to the side of the runway to rejoin the group. With just a little more practice, they will be more able to stay aloft long enough to make it back to the runway. Then they will enjoy their morning exercise even more!
Bev adds that #612 is the biggest, tallest, and most muscular bird in his group. This helps him be the best flyer. He's a dominant bird, but Bev says he doesn't really act like Top Crane. He doesn't throw his weight around a lot, and she believes this makes #612 a good leader.
October 14: After being in the pen for 4 bad-weather days, Marie thought the birds are getting antsy to leave. "Tempers are flaring, and this morning #612 and #606 were doing the 'I'm bigger than you' thing. Most times stretching their necks out is enough of a threat and one of the birds will back down and wander off. This time both started flapping and jumping at each other until the other birds formed a 'fight ring' around them. Just as I walked over to them, #606 decided he had had enough and walked away from #612. It seems to me that 612 is also turning out to be a bit of a bully. This seems odd since as a chick he was always so calm and never minded being around the other birds. For the birds' sake, and ours, I think we need a change of scenery!"
December 2: He's just just great on all the fly days. But now the birds hadn't flown with the ultralight for 9 days. When they took off Dec. 2, Crane #612 had trouble crossing the Cumberland Ridge. It's the highest point on the whole migration. He dropped out on top of the ridge. Charlie caught him, put him in a crate, and drove him on mountain roads to the next stop.
January 12, 2007: Moving day! Chick #612 followed the ultralight planes Jan. 11 when the pilots tried to move the 18 chicks from the layover site to "Chass." He was one of only 6 birds that cooperated! Hooray! Migration complete.
Feb. 2, 2006: Crane 612 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
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