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

Crane # 826

Date Hatched

June 10, 2008



Egg Source: Patuxent WRC

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching St. Marks)

Left Leg Right Leg
 radio antenna
  • 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:
Barb says #826 is "a real cutie— so tall and slender and looks like a little super model. He has such big eyes that sometimes he looks like a little bug. This chick has been walking with #820 and they get along great. Because of their size and good nature, these two sweet chicks also go walk with bullies #827 and also #824 (on separate walks) to help socialize them. Barb says, "#826 is our little dancer in the group. At any given moment he will just start jumping and flapping and dancing around. We all thought from his personality that he would be a girl, but he is indeed a little boy. He will be a good dancer in his courtship efforts in years to come!" Barb calls him one of the good little chicks.

#826 preens
Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from "flight school in Wisconsin:
Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. On Aug. 4, pilot Brooke said, "He spreads his wings and flaps madly at the onset of the slightest breeze, eager for the day when he'll soar the skies." On Aug. 17 #826 got stung by a bee. He had swelling around his left eye and was separated from the others so he could receive medicated water to help the swelling go down. He weighed 4.7 kg at his pre-migration health check.

The youngest chicks had been flying 7 minutes or more by mid September. On September 26 the combined cohorts (youngest and middle birds) flew together for the first time, and #826 dropped out. Bev decided to walk 826 back to the pen site instead of crating and risking injury to him. Bev said, "The spot where he had dropped out was a straight shot north, about two miles across a short grass sand prairie. He was already trying to walk back on his own, so I hopped in front to give me the illusion that he was following instead of leading. Two miles is a long way to walk, slowly, in full costume complete with rubber boots, but I tried to savor every moment. Chick 826 has always been one of my favorites. He always kept me laughing with his antics when he was little. This morning, however, he was content just to walk by my side, occasionally pecking at a seed head or ducking when a butterfly flitted by. He flew the last hundred feet or so to the pen."

#826 goes into the wet pen
Photo Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #826 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #826 below.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #826 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today's lead pilot Brooke summed it up: "I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations."
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

November 27, Day 42: He flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe's wing!

He and the other birds relax after landing in Union County, Kentucky on Nov. 27. He is Bev's favorite: "One of those you don’t hear anything about because he always behaves himself and keeps right up with the pack."

Photo Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes 805, 812, 813, 826, 828, 829 and 830)!

Winter Pen at St. Marks: Bev (in costume) uses the puppet to show #826 how to eat a blue crab.

Photo Bev Paulan, OM
Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #813 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The others may have been with her, but 813 then left the group at some point. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Soon after that sighting, 826 was apparently injured and unable to walk. He was found and transported to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne for examination (photos here). He had multiple, severe leg fractures. How he became injured is unknown. See details: newspaper article. Sadly, #826 did not survive until surgeons could try to fix his leg, and died on April 8.


Hear Bev describe #826, her favorite. >>

Audio clip thanks to interviewer Mark Chenoweth !
Last updated: 4/9/09
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