Personality and History
Migration Training: Chick #717 originated from a wild egg — an egg that was rescued after adult pair #213 and #218 abandoned their nest earlier this spring. In her first few weeks of life, #717 was a scared little chick. She got braver as she got older. In fact, she was pretty aggressive towards the others in cohort 2 since the time the team first started socializing them as a whole group until migration time. She came to Wisconsin on July 3 in cohort 2, the group of 5 chicks between the oldest and the youngest. Megan said, "It was funny; she was always going after the other birds, but then she'd cry to the handlers. Just a big bully." By July 31, she could fly the length of the runway with ease! She was so happy to be flying that she often ran out to greet the trike when it taxied up for training session. Sometimes she and her pal #716 liked to fly over to land in the marsh instead of next to the trike. They had to be coaxed back to the pen.
Her white feathers are whiter than all the rest of the chicks. (This was also true last year of the chick hatched from a wild egg.) Nathan likes chick 717! She's grown much braver than when she was tiny. On September 12 the two newly-combined cohorts were not getting along. Chick #717 was especially aggressive. She attacked the younger chicks and would have knocked one over but the pilots rushed in to give the fighters "time out" in separate pens!
"She's calmed down a lot and isn't really aggressive anymore to other birds or the handlers. When she first got her new leg band prior to migration, it was light blue with white clouds on it. It was the only special one that wasn't plain colored. The colors faded soon after though, so now it's light blue mixed with red and white showing from underneath."
Crane #717 never gives anybody any problems! She's a strong flying-bird, a good follower, and a flock mate who minds her own business in the class of 2007.
As of Day 81, she's made every flight successfully without ever dropping out, but she proved she had a mind of her own:
Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (716, 717, 721, 724, and 726). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn't stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)
Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #709, 710, 722, and 726.
Spring 2009: Began migration from Hernando County, FL with cranes #709 and #726 on March 24. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. Crane 717 and 709 were among the birds that often followed #710 to the nearby ethanol plant to get the spilled corn. This is a dangerous situation because of all the human activity at the ethanol plant, but luckily this pair did not keep it up after the too-tame #710 was captured and relocated to a zoo in Florida. Female #717 and male #709 paired up and spent the summer in the core area.
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: Female #717 with #709 began migration from the pair's Florida winter territory 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. The two have been together since they were in the same training cohort as chicks. They were a possible breeding pair for this spring, but they did not establish a territory and on June 3 the carcass of her mate, male #709, was discovered near the boundary of the refuge. 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.
Fall 2010: Female #717 had moved to Columbia County, Wisconsin with 712 and 31-08 (DAR) by September 28. She migrated with #712 and 31-08 (DAR), whose PTT reading on November 29 indicated a location in Shelby County, Illinois. All three were seen at this location during an aerial survey on December 3. The three were detected in flight with cranes #416 and #904 through western Kentucky on December 6. They completed migration and wintered in Polk County, Florida.
Spring 2011: Began migration sometime between March 7-13 and reported back at Necedah NWR by March 21. She has a nonfuncgtional transmitter and cannot be tracked. By March 24 she was with male #910 in Monroe County. They stayed at this location into April.
Fall 2011: Female #717 was captured in Monroe County, Wisconsin, on October 15 to remove a piece of fishing line that was wrapped around her right leg. It was safely removed at her capture location and she was released immediately. On Nov. 7, tracker Eva, who had been observing her, reported that she seeemd to be improving. On Oct. 21 she could see that the bird was still not puttping her full weight on the leg. She did have a better ranger of motion, and she did't seem to be using her wings to help her walk as much as she had before. On Nov. 5, she was found with a group of Whooping cranes in a corn field in Juneau County, WI. At first she was lying down. Then she stood for a few minutes before lying down again. About 15 minutes later she stood again, this time for approximately 7 minutes before again lying down. She was still limping heavily, but she now puts weight on the leg and was not using her wings to walk. When standing and eating she almost always had the leg in normal position rather than holding it up at a 90-degree angle. Eva could still see the noticeable bump at the site of the leg injury. She and her male companion (#10-09) have sometimes returned to one of the pools on the Necedah refuge to roost, and the male seemed very protective of her. Tracker Eva Szyszkoski observed #717 (17-07) again on November 17th. "She looked fabulous!" said Eva. Her leg no longer dangled in flight, and everything appeared normal. She was next seen on migration. She wintered with #910 in Greene County, Indiana.
Spring 2012: Female #717 was assumed to be flying with her mate #910 when he was detected March 15 in flight with several other Whooping cranes headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—close to Necedah NWR. This new pair had their first nest together by April 23 but it was not successful.
Fall 2012: She was captured Oct. 15 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her old colors of W/G (PTT) were replaced by R/W/G on the right leg.
Spring 2013: Female #717 (#17-07) ditched her mate (#29-09) in Sauk County, Wisconsin and comlpleted migration alone, arriving March 28 at Necedah NWR.
Last updated: 04/01/13
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