By August 19, the oldest chick, #32-09, was gliding above the ground for 100 ft. or so. At first she did short flights so she could stick around the costume. Her flying attracts the attention of a nearby pair of adult Whooping cranes (#211 and #217) who fly over to see who is in the area. So far it has not been an issue of territory, but all the chicks are wary of the adult pair being close by. The first in the DAR group to fly, she was a strong flyer by the end of August.
October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days they birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and someof the flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn't tell which chicks did that because they didn't get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.
Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!
Fall 2009: She was released at Site 3 on Necedah NWR on October 24 along with DAR 38-09. They roosted there that night and stayed in that area the rest of October. On November 1 they joined with all but two of the other DAR chicks and flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow the older adult cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?
They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR 32-09, 34-09, 35-09, 36-09, 37-09, 40-09, and 41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes, particularly #506 and 713.
First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that's when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, "there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week." Those birds were adult pair #307 and 726, two single males (#506 and #713) and seven of this year's nine DAR chicks: 32-09, 34-09, 35-09, 36-09, 37-09, 40-09 and 41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, "When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside." The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.
On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. "Adult male #506 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see," said tracker Sara. Crane #506 and the seven 2009 DAR chicks were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky! They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.
Spring 2010: PTT signals from crane 32-09* (DAR) indicated completion of migration to the Necedah NWR area by the night of March 18. She was likely in a group containing 506, DAR 37-09 and DAR 40-09; they were confirmed with visuals and signals a few days later. They apparently left Muscatatuck NWR in Indiana on March 15 or 16 and reached Champaign County, Illinois and then finished the migration by the night of March 18. By mid April Eva said these three DAR females continued to follow male #506.
Fall 2010: Female 32-09 (DAR) migrated to Indiana again. She was reported at the Muscatatuck NWR in Jackson County, Indiana on February 7, 2011. She had last been reported with sandhills in Union County, Indiana, on January 1. In February she moved and was reported on a wildlife refuge in Jackson County on February 7 and stayed in the area.
Spring 2011: Female 32-09 (DAR) began migration March 3. She and 41-09 (DAR) were detected in flight near Necedah NWR on May 16 and returned to the Mill Bluff area of Monroe County, Wisconsin by May 21 and remained there.
Fall 2011: Female 32-09 and 41-09 (DAR) wintered in Jackson County, Indiana.
Spring 2012: Pair 32-09 (DAR) and 41-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16. This new pair was observed sitting on a nesting platform during one flight in May, but were not observed there again. No eggs were ever confirmed so it wasn't a confirmed nest.
Spring 2013: Pair #32-09 (DAR) and mate 41-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 27! They were observed on a nest during Bev Paulan's aerial survey April 16. The pair abandoned the nest but an egg was rescued and taken to ICF for incubation. The good news was the hatching of #3-13 on May 15th! This chick became part of the Clas of 2013 for the ultralight-led fall migration.
Fall 2013: Crane#32-09 was found with a new mate! ICF tracker Eva had no sightings or word on #32-09 until January, when Eva discovered this female in Meigs County, TN, paired with male #5-05, who had been missing and suspected dead until this discovery. In more good news, parent-reared juvenile #22-13 was hanging around with this new pair, who seemed to have successfully adopted the young crane that was captive-born and released at Necedah in fall in hopes it would join up with an accepting mated pair to lead it on the migration route. This is a good sign that the chick will survive winter and return to Wisconsin in spring. Well done, #32-09 and new mate!
Spring 2014: Pair #32-09 DAR and #5-05 began migration from near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee, on February 17/18, and their "adopted" youngster, #22-13 was still with them. They were reported in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 18 and had arrived in Washington County, Indiana, by February 21. The pair was confirmed back at the Necedah NWR on March 28. By mid April this pair had a nest, which was still active when checked April 30, but they abandoned the nest in May.
Spring 2015: Female #32-0 (DAR) and mate #5-05 were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey.
Last updated: 3/26/15
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