the 2009 Whooping Crane Chicks!
the Eastern Flock
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC)
after reaching Florida)
about the naming system, hatch place in
Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering
site in Florida, and leg-band codes.
the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC
927 was introduced to the trike engine for the first time on June 12.
was so afraid of being in the circle pen that the "costumes" Bev
and Brooke) just let him eat meal worms while hearing the comforting
brood call over the
loudspeaker on the trike. Brooke spun the propeller and pushed the
and forth — but just these small movements sent 927 peeping
like a baby! They settled with just walking him around the pen.
Bev Paulan, Operation Migration
of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their
first training session as a group was July 15 and 927 did beautifully.
All of the chicks followed the trike and paid
no attention to one another. In the coming days, 927 always came out of
the pen, followed the
treats when they reached the end of the runway. These youngest
birds weren't flying yet but the end of July, but making
progress. Go, Cohort
mid August, all of cohort 3, with the exception of
931, were starting to fly in ground effect. The team noticed
that #927 had a swollen hock (leg joint), but it
seemed to get better as the days passed. The cohort
was flying brief, short circles in the air over the
training field. This chick picked on #929 in the early
part of the summer. That tapered off as they learned
to fly better and better. The weather allowed training
almost every day, so these youngest chicks will be
ready for migration.
day they get de-worming medicine in a grape given to
them by the puppet. Chick #927
is one of the birds who takes off for the swamp to
that grape before eating it. The handlers have to
watch closely to be sure he gets his meds. The
capsule floats if it falls out of the grape, and
is quick to play
the chick gets curious and grabs it to swallow.
team worried about #927 getting picked on when the
middle and youngest cohorts spent their first night
together without a fence dividing them, but he did
Migration South: Chick #927 (and 14
others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the
Class of 2009 left on their first migration on
October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the
next day to follow the ultralights to the migration's
first stopover site, where five flockmates landed
on Day 1. Find day-by-day
news about the flock's migration and read
more about #927 below.
#927 was one of the four who flew with Richard from
the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1
to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #927!
Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the
27: On today's flight crane
914 (and several others) didn't follow well.
They turned back to old Stopover #1 and had
to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.
1: Hooray! 927 (and ALL the others!)
flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!
Now we can expect more of this. They are getting
stronger and more confident!
5: For the third
flight in a row, ALL 20 birds made the whole flight
today! They are gaining strength and confidence.
Bev now says 927 is not the baby, but certainly
looks like it. "I always know where he is because
he is still mostly brown. Very few white feathers
have grown in, and he still looks very baby-like.
He is also one of the quiet ones. Rarely do we
hear him peep. He goes about his daily business
quietly, almost shyly."
16: From her post at the CraneCam, Heather
saw this little story take place in the pen one
morning on a down-day. She's not sure, but she
thinks the main character might have been
on a mission. Twice within
a half hour, he approached another crane from
till just the right moment. As soon as the other
crane bent over to peck, poke or prod at
something, he would very cautiously lean toward
the target tush and strike! I couldn’t
help but chuckle as he proceeded to prance oh
so proudly away with a tail feather held valiantly
in his beak."
20: Crane 927 was one of the 16
who flew off on this exercise day and didn't
come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before
Richard located and caught up to them. He then
turned them on course and led them to safe
landing at the next planned stopover. Until
this has never happened since the pilots began
leading whoopers south in 2001.
30: Crane 927 was one of the three
birds who flew loyally but then dropped out
when he got too frustrated in rough winds to
finish. He finished the trip to Stopver #9
traveling by road in a crate.
3: (Day 72) Today's rough climb
to get up to smoother air was too much for
and he dropped out. Trackers found him and
boxed him up for the drive back to the pen
after the rest of the flock turned back
with the pilot.
New leg bands!
Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF
20, 2010, Day
89: Migration complete for the "Chass
10:" #901, 903, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919,
924, 927, and 929! Male
927 flew all but 26 miles of this migration.
at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you
must pay close attention to 927's leg bands.
Both 927 and 903 have RGR bands, BUT the transmitter
and bands are on opposite legs,
making each bird's code a unique and separate
banding code. On which leg are 927's RGR bands?
13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass
(#903 disappeared) with adult pair #105 and #501were
beginning to show signs of migration restlessness.
Eva said, "It was a windy night and they
continued to fly around, land, fly around, land,
fly around, land…well, you get the picture.
This is typical behavior for the chicks before
they decide to head back north. Although it would
be a little on the early side for them to be
leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult
pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier
then they would otherwise."
Journey North: The "Chass
kids (901, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919, 924, 927 and
929) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With
them were subadults 824, 827 and 830. While they
did not remain in one group for the whole flight,
they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia
around 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #907, who took
off on her own in the early morning of April 6, continued
migration and roosted the night of April 6 in
Jackson County, Alabama. This was just
the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous
stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana
where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather
conditions. The group of 11 continued migration
County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here
they split into two groups. Both groups continued migration
the next day (April 10) and the group of three (#913,
919 and 927) was tracked to Waukesha County, Wisconsin where they dropped
out early, likely because the very strong winds from the west made
it extremely difficult for them to keep going
west. He has not been detected since then.
2011: Crane #927 was considered to have died after
not being detected for over a year. He was removed
from the official population in spring 2011.
the Flock 2009"