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

Crane # 811

Date Hatched

May 17, 2008



Egg Source: #313 and #318

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

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:
Chick #811 is a full sibling of #810. Both were collected as eggs from the parents' abandoned nest at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and then shipped to Maryland to hatch. Barb said #811 sounded weak when in the egg. Her peep could barely be heard, and they worried that the chick would be too weak to hatch without help. But then all of a sudden when no one was looking, #811 hatched out all on her own. She was still weak but gained strength and soon became a strong member of the Class of 2008. She is extremely cute, and loves to take a bath in the pond. She is a good little swimmer. Enjoys the outdoors and a sweet personality. She is content to just sit at the edge of the pond and preen her cute little belly all day long in between foraging and eating juicy little bugs. She was afraid of tall flowers on her outdoor walks! Said Barb, "Her brother, #810, would at times take a poke at #11, but #11 had a loner little personality that normally kept her away from the action. She didn’t care so much about the costume, the trike or being with the other birds in her first weeks. She did what she wanted, when she wanted, in her own time and on her own terms, so she's not the best little follower of the Class of 2008.

Notes from flight school in Wisconsin:
She was delivered to Wisconsin with cohort one on June 25 for flight school. On the second day in Wisconsin, she was attacked by the aggressive #810. She was taken to ICF to treat her injuries. Chick #811 recovered and rejoined the flock but was moved to the friendlier cohort #2 to continue her training.

#811's damaged feathers. She was under such physical and mental stress after being attacked by #810 that the results showed up as her feathers grew.
Photo Richard van Heuvelen, Operation Migration

By mid-July # 811 seemed quite happy now that she was among friendlier birds of Cohort two. This group was introduced to the wing of the aircraft on July 15. But #815 was being closely watched because of a respiratory issue. As August went on, she had some trouble keeping up due to loss of flight feathers in the fight with sibling #810 the day after they arrived at Necedah. If her feather problems affect her ability to fly or keep up during migration, #811 will have to stay behind for her own safety. If that happens she will probably be taken back to her hatching place at Patuxent WRC in Maryland to be a role model for future whooper chicks. However, 811 followed the trike well. She just lands early and usually has to be retrieved from the marsh. WCEP vet Dr. Barry Hartup confirmed that her feathers just can’t bear the load that they need to for sustained flight. Both the field team and the health team kept monitoring 811’s condition and progress. She weighed 4.6 kg at the September 3 health check.

On Sept. 9 #811 again could not keep up during the day's training flight and dropped out on the runway. With the other five strung out behind the trike, pilot Richard circled to let the stragglers catch up. Then, as we they flew past the pen site, #811 became airborne again and tried to catch up but just couldn't do it.

A New Life for #811
On September 10 the team and doctors decided to remove #811 from the Class of 2008. Because of poor feather development and being timid from being handled too much by the costumes, it’s not very likely she could survive on her own in the wild. It is even less likely she could make the 1,285 mile trip with her flock mates, pointed out Joe Duff. Her bloodline is well represented in the captive flock so she will be
given to a Zoo. "When she molts next year she will likely grow a crop of perfect feathers," said Joe, "but display birds are important too. They help to educate lots of people and in a round-about way, help to save the species from extinction."

On September 15, she was left behind when her cohort followed the ultralight over to join the youngest birds on Moving Day. She will eventually be a display bird in a zoo. "Until then," said pilot Joe Duff, "the Team will care for her and begin the taming down process. When the rest of her cohort left she didn’t even come out of the pen. She stayed in the back of the wet pen while the rest of them flew away. Birds don’t seem to like long goodbyes."


Last updated: 9/16/08

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