Meet the 2008 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2008 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 810
(Became DAR #10-08/#810D)

Date Hatched

May 15, 2008



Egg Source: Wild birds #313 and #318 in the Eastern flock

Leg Bands


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.
    *Scroll to bottom for most recent history.*

Personality and Training
Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:
Full sibling to #811. Both were collected as eggs from the parents' abandoned nest at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. He was a quick learner, eating and drinking on his own in a very short time. Barb calls him "very cute but a little lazy in the pool. At times it seems as if he were floating on an inner tube drinking a refreshing ice tea. He needs to move those little legs in the water and get some exercise!"

This little guy was aggressive from the beginning. He was small, but acted like he knew he was ten feet tall! He had many "time outs" by himself from the time he could walk. Once he tried to start a fight with #803 in the pen next to him, and #803 was almost twice his size. On one of his many time outs, Barb said: "I checked on #810 often, only to find him enjoying life, all alone, no one to harass, no one to peck at. At a later date, Barb saw #810 pecking, flapping and jump raking towards his sister, #811 (she was in a pen next to him with plexiglas separating them). "Not a good sign on the aggression factor scale," said Barb, so #810 got some alone time before a later try again with the group. When Patuxent folks put him on the plane for Necedah, they wrote this message on the front of his shipping crate: Good Luck.

Photo Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration

Notes from flight school in Wisconsin:
Chick #810 continued his aggressive ways after his cohort (the oldest chicks) arrived at Necedah NWR. The team was on alert, and quickly saw how his wild behavior put the other chicks at risk. He attacked 3 chicks one evening after he had seemed to be getting along with them enough to be left with the group all day (with frequent checks by the caretakers). He showed once again that he is dangerous to the other chicks. (Two healed from their injuries, but #807 died.) Barb summed up:

"He has given us our share of worry and, although he has caused us and his cohort much grief, he should be recognized for his survival skills. I have no doubt if he and #811 had hatched from that Necedah nest together, #810 would be the survivor. No chance for a set of twins to both survive in that nest."

Meanie #810 was kept apart to prevent further aggression to the other chicks. The team watched him closely and he was allowed to return to the flock about a week later. In early september, pilot Brooke thinks "#810 is fine when in the pen but when out on the strip training, if someone gets out of line, or picks a fight with him, he WILL defend himself and it can escalate..."

The team will need to keep an eye on #810 because of his temper. Biggest in the Class of 2008, he weighed 6.7 kg at the pre-migration health check on Sept. 2.

He showed his mean streak again Oct. 5 when all the birds were mixing together for the first time on the runway. He attacked first one chick, then another, and then another. Pilot Brooke wrote: "Like referees at a boxing match we broke up clinch after clinch as true rage took control of his little body and he chased, jump-raked and grabbed birds with his beak." Brian finally grabbed him by the wings and walked him back into the divided pen for some time out while the rest of the birds returned to their world of simple bird play and introducing themselves to each other. The team watched and Brooke wrote, "He paces in visible belligerence and agitation along his side of the pen fence, picking fights through the fence with any and all passing chicks. His behavior fills me with disappointment and dread, for we must now weigh the prospect of continued efforts of integration with the danger of him attacking and injuring yet more chicks."

Expelled from Flight School
Team leader Joe Duff announced on October 7 that #810 would not be part of the ultralight-led flock this fall. "Even if he is as good as gold between now and departure time, how do we trust him especially once they are in the travel pen with its smaller space and lack of a wetland? We could isolate him during the migration by dividing the pen but we have found in the past that once a bird is separated they soon become indifferent to the costume and much more independent from the aircraft.
And how do we handle the early morning release? Do we let him out with the rest of the birds while we coordinate the take off? He may decide it’s payback time for being sequestered alone and our choreographed launch may turn into a donnybrook. How would one pilot handle the situation if they were forced to land with several birds including 810? And what of Florida? Would he be so aggressive as to force the others out of the pen like the white birds occasionally do at Chassahowitzka. Maybe we could send him to Chass and he could single-handedly end that problem by giving all the white birds what-for. At any rate the risk is too high and we have reluctantly decided to remove him from the ultralight cohort."

What's next for #810?
"It is likely that number 810 will become a release bird using a method similar to the DAR project, wrote Joe. "He will not be counted as a DAR release so his future will not affect the project evaluation but that team will coordinate his freedom. We will care for him until our departure and hand him over. He won’t need a shipping crate for this stage of his experience but maybe someone should engrave Good Luck on his leg band. That way he would carry with him our best wishes and a warning to others."

On Oct. 8 the team let his cohort-mates #803, 804 and 805 keep #810 company in his pen for the morning and all went well. He wanted to charge out of the pen and follow the ultralight when the flock trained, and it was sad for the ground crew to hear him peep and call when he was left behind.

On the day before migration, the pilots moved the other 13 birds so they could spend the night in their travel pen to get used to it. Mr. #810, in a fenced off area, cried at being left behind when the others took off with the ultralight. The pilots returned after the other 13 birds were settled. As they rolled past #810's pen gate, the doors were opened and #810 charged out for a nice flight all by himself with the ultralight. Now everyone was happier, especially #810! He will be banded and released after the ultralights and Class of 2008 are gone.

Wild and Free
October 22, 2008: Crane #810 was released at dusk at a pool on Necedah NWR. His flockmates and the ultralights were already on their way south. After realizing he was on his own, he flew to the nearby training site where he had spent most of the summer with Cohort One. But pair #310 and W601 were there now, and chased him off. He flew next to the Canfield training site, where he spent the past three weeks. He was still there a few days later, along with a pair of older adult whoopers also spending time at the now-vacant site. These adults were #313 and 318 —the parents that abandoned the eggs from which #810 and #811 hatched!

He continued seeking out the company of other Whooping cranes elsewhere on the refuge. He was seen with #307 and #721 on Oct. 26 and with #310 and W1-06 (the wild-hatched chick) Oct. 28.

By early November #810 had become integrated into a flock of about 15 mostly sub-adult cranes. The group includes DAR 37-08, who, like #810, will also be making her first migration very soon.

The two are in this group of cranes south of Necedah NWR on Nov. 14.

Photo Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2008 — First Journey South as a Released Crane: Left Wisconsin on Nov. 20 in a large group of the flock's adult Whooping cranes and another first-timer, DAR #37-08. Not all of them stayed together, but on Nov. 24, young #810 and #37-08 (in a group with #412, 511. 512. 716. 724, and DAR 46-07) had reached the border of southern Illinois and southern Indiana.

Nov. 25: "They have been in this location for a few days now, and haven't separated from each other once! It's really adorable to watch them fly around together, landing in various fields and dancing quite often." The group was in Gibson County, Indiana until Dec. 21, when they moved to White County, Tennessee.
Photos Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Crane #10-08 made it to Florida! He was confirmed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County, Florida, on January 1, 2009. He was with DAR 37-08 and several older whoopers. But after January 30 his radio signal was not detected there, and his current location is unknown. Trackers looked for him with searches on the ground and in the air but found no sign of him or his signal.

Spring 2009: Although his death was never confirmed or substantiated by additional evidence, in May 2009 #10-08 was no longer considered alive in the Eastern flock population totals.

Last updated: 5/13/09

Check back for updates here throughout 10-08's life.

Back to "Meet the Flock 2008"