Each bird that follows the ultralight on its first migration has a
3-digit number that becomes its "name" for its whole life.
The number tells something about the bird. This year, the first digit
for the hatch year (2008). The last two digits stand for the order
which these chicks hatched. So, #803 hatched third of all the
eggs. Gaps in the number system happen when a chick
dies, if a chick is kept and raised as a breeding bird due to its
valuable genetics, or for other reasons.
The chicks hatched in Maryland at Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center (PWRC). This
is a special place where rare birds are bred and raised in captivity.
The valuable eggs hatched in the care of experts. They were watched
over very carefully.
gate to PWRC captive breeding center
from captive whooping cranes
trainers use crane puppets to help train the new chicks .
Home and "Flight School"
they know how to fly, an airplane carries the little chicks to Wisconsin
for "flight school." They live at a wildlife refuge with
many acres of wetlands. The name of the refuge is Necedah
(say Nuh SEE duh) National Wildlife Refuge.
are released in special pens where they'll be safe as they learn to
fly. During training they learn to follow the ultralight
planes that will teach them where to go when it's time for their very
first migration. The cranes will leave the refuge and
fly to warmer Florida in fall, with the ultralight planes leading the
in the wild learn the route by following their parents.)
private plane flies the chicks from Maryland to Wisconsin.
chick travels in its own tall box.
are released in a safe pen at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
these chicks follow ultralight planes on their first migration
to learn the way. They will go to winter homes in Florida. Until
the Class of 2008 arrived, all
chicks in the Eastern flock were taken to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife
Refuge. but the flock is growing, so the Class of 2008 was divided
for TWO wintering areas. From now on, half the birds will go to
St. Marks National
Refuge. The other half will continue to go to Chassahowitzka NWR.
Like other members of the new Eastern flock, the youngest crane-kids
will migrate back to Wisconsin each spring, and to Florida each fall.
(They may disperse as they get older.)
Eastern flock's Winter Homes
crane in the new Eastern flock wears leg bands on each leg. Like
names for humans, color-coded bands identify each crane for life. Detailed
histories are kept on each of these endangered birds, and the banding
codes help scientists tell the birds apart. ICF's
Sara Zimorski explains
the colors: "Red, white, and green are the three brightest and most
contrasting colors. They show up, are easy
to tell apart, and are not easily confused with other colors. That's
them for our color scheme. As a bonus, each bird has all three colors
so if we ever see a bird with only 2 colors
we will immediately know a band was lost. (Only one bird has lost a band
since the start of this project in 2001.)"
also hold the battery-powered radio transmitter. A few of the
birds will get yet another band and transmitter (PTT)
satellite tracking. For more information, see Tracking
permanent bands with color codes are attached to the birds'
legs at the health checks after they arrive in Florida and before
the top net is removed from the pen for their final release.
Journey North is pleased to feature this educational
adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).