Meet the New 2007 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2007 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 709

Date Hatched

May 5 , 2007



Egg Source: Florida nonmigratory flock

Permanent Leg Bands

Weight 05/05/07: 132 grams
Weight 05/08/07: 120 grams
Weight 09/05/07: 5.9 kilograms

Left Leg Right Leg
  • 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: On May 16 the trainers introduced 709 and 710 for the first time. There was a lot of bill pecking, with 709 finally coming out on top after their 20-minute walk. He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 19 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By July 24, he was flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length of the grassy runway, along with 3 of the other oldest chicks. By July 31 he was flying two circuits with the ultralight! He gained steadily in endurance and he follows well.


First Migration South
: Chick #709 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #709 below.

Nov. 16, Day 35: Crane 709 had been a terrific flyer every day, but midway through today's flight 709 began tugging with his beak at the batten string flopping at the end of Brooke's aircraft wing. Time after time, he clamped his beak down on the string, then thrust skyward, pulling the string and the wing up. Brooke said, "This caused a bump in flight which I had to immediate correct by pulling down slightly on the wing. This became a game between us: he tugged, I corrected, he released the string but only to fix completely on it until it was again in his beak—and I again corrected." It didn't take long for Brooke to grow tired of 709's little game! Luckily, 709 finally turned his attention back to flying without mischief again.

Nate says 709 picks on him sometimes. His bill is a little overgrown, but isn't causing too much concern.

Crane #709 completed every flight without ever dropping out — until Day 92.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 25 in a group of six flockmates and made it to Worth County Georgia. Four of the six stayed together (#709, #703, #707 and #714) and resumed northward migration the next morning, March 26, to Bledsoe County, TN. Crane #709 had not been detected since his radio signals were received on the evening of March 26. The group may have scattered after their traveling mate #714 was killed by a predator; 709 may have continued north on his own, or he may be farther away. Trackers learned the answer when his signal was picked up at 1:00 pm April 4 — over Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin! He was the first of the Class of 2007 to complete migration to Wisconsin but wait! He overflew and kept going. His signal was lost and he has not been seen again for another ten days. Sara said, "This is typical behavior for returning UL juveniles. They often pass over the refuge and then move around a lot before settling back down for the summer near the refuge." Crane #709 was confirmed on Wisconsin farmland on April 14!

Fall 2008: Cranes #709, 710, 717*, 722*, and 726* wintered in Hernando County, Florida.

Spring 2009: Began migration March 24 from Hernando County, Florida with 717 and 726. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. Male 709 and female 717 were among the birds that followed #710 to the nearby ethanol plant to get the spilled corn. This is a dangerous situation because of all the humans and activity, but luckily this pair did not return to the ethanol plant after the too-tame #710 was captured and relocated to a zoo in Florida. Crane pair #709 and 717 remained in the core area all summer.

Fall 2009: Subadult pair #709 and 717 were still on the Wisconsin refuge as of Nov. 15 but they did migrate and spend winter at their previous territory in Hernando County, Florida.

Spring 2010: Male #709 (with #717) began migration from Florida on March 19-20. PTT readings for #717 on April 1 indicated return to Necedah NWR, and 709 was also observed on Necedah NWR on that date. On June 3 ICF Tracking Intern Matt Strausser and Operation Migration pilot Richard van Heuvelen discovered the decomposed carcass #709 in a pine woodland 1 mile south of the southeastern Necedah NWR boundary. The area was not crane habitat, and #709 may have dropped while airborne. He was last observed alive on May 22 and was apparently dead by May 24, the next date when his mate (#717) was observed alone. The carcass will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, for necropsy. Cranes #709 and #717 had stayed together since they were members of the training Class of 2007. The two birds were old enough to become a possible breeding pair in 2010; however, they did not establish a territory.

Last updated: 6/3/10


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