Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Chick #1-10 was flown to Wisconsin for flight school with other Cohort #1 chicks on June 30 when he was 60 days old.
During the training session on June 8 he paid good attention to the ultralight plane "parent," even though two adult whooping cranes joined in the group chasing down the runway with the ultralight. By early July he was getting close to getting a few feet off the ground. On August 3 he and his buddies 2-10 and 3-10 flew around with the ultralight plane in a big circle!
On August 12 he broke the freshwater hose in the tub and water flowed everywhere!
When the two cohorts and all 13 birds mixed together the first few times, even big #1-10 ran away from aggressive female #16-10! Crane #1 is and always was one of the top birds in the pecking order, but both #17 and #17 can be some seriously scary birds.
On September 26 the training session was nearly perfect, with all birds launching with Brooke. But then #1 and #2 broke away from the flight and few back towards the pen. The rest stayed with the trike for more than half an hour before landing right where they began. But #1 has a habit, along with #5-10, and #9-10, of flying a single lap then landing on the runway. That needs to change!
First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #1-10 left Necedah NWR on his first migration on October 10, 2010. He was one of seven in the Class of 2010 to take off with Richard's ultralight and one of only four to go the whole 23-mile distance on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #1-10 below.
Oct. 17: Crane #1-10 was a loyal follower of the trike that led him from takeoff. Pilot Joe said, "Numbers 1 and 17 locked onto my wing and the farther we went, the more faithful they became. Brooke and Richard struggled with the rest.
Days: This male is a loyal and dependable follower on every
First Winter, Release Site at St. Marks NWR: The St. Marks Five had been banded and got health checks soon after arrival. The top net was removed from their pen and they were set free to come and go on Dec. 25, 1010!
Crane 1-10 has taken up the job of protecting the feed buckets at the release pen. Brooke, who is watching over the cranes during their "soft release," said #1 is not shy about chasing after visiting crane #915 (15-09) or any of the other visiting adults when they try to get near the the chicks' food. Brooke gave #1-10 a part-time job: When the adults drop in, the costumes walk #1-10 over to guard one feed bucket and they stand in front of the other feed buckets. This means no free meals for any of the older birds. They need to go away and get their own territories and their own food!
Spring 2011, First Unassisted Migration: On March 21, males #1-10 and #8-10 departed on migration along with the two older birds (# 925 and #929) that had been staying at the pen site for much of the winter! Data from their GPS transmitters indicated that they made it to Macon County, Alabama, nearly 200 miles to the north and right on course. GPS data from #1-10 indicates that on the night of March 24th, he had made it to Jackson County, AL in the northeast portion of the state. That all adds up to 586 kilometers. March 26th his signal was picked up in Barron County, Kentucky. The next reading shows him south of Chicago near the Indiana-Illinois border. He completed migration with classmate #8-10 by the night of April 7. They wandered after they returned. They were near Zumbrota (Goodhue County, Minnesota) through at least May 17. PTT readings indicated a roost location on the southern pools of Necedah NWR on the night of May 19. By the night of 21 May 21 they had returned to Minnesota, this time west of Dennison (Rice County). They remained at this location at least through the end of May.
Fall 2011: Crane 1-10 migrated to Greene County, Indiana for the winter.
Spring 2013: Crane #1-10, with #W1-10, was reported back on Necedah NWR on March 23, reported ICF's Eva Szyszkoski.
Fall 2013: Male #1-10 wintered in the area of Hopkins County, Kentucky with #34-09 (DAR) and several other cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on February 12, 2014:
Spring 2014: Cranes 1-10/34-09 along with 24-09 and 42-09 began migration from their wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 22-24 March. They arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois, by roost on 26 March and completed migration to Wisconsin on 29/30 March. He left his mate #34-09 to pair up instead with female W1-06. The new pair nested, and the nest was stilll active when checked on April 30. In May the pair hatched a chick! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, however, as neither parents nor chick could not be found, although a radio signal was being detected.
Fall 2014: Male #1-10 was captured and given a new transmitter/colors on the right leg on September 12 before migration. He migrated south to Hopkins County, Kentucky, where he was associating with #W1-06 and several other Whooping Cranes during the winter.
"Captures are not only for transmitter replacements," explains ICF's Eva Szyszkoski. "When the cranes are in hand we are able to perform a brief health exam, including checking the condition of the wing feathers. This helps us get a better understanding if the bird has recently molted or not. Birds with clean, intact feathers may have molted that year while birds with ratty, dirty feathers probably have not. Whooping cranes do a complete molt every 2-3 years, meaning that they lose all their flight feathers all at once. This is a dangerous time for them since they are completely flightless for about 6 weeks. They need to be in an area with stable water conditions so they can remain safe from predators." Eva took these photos of #1-10's right wing and his release after the banding and health check:
Spring 2015: Male #1-10 and female W1-06 were seen back on Wisconsin territory during the March 25 aerial survey by Bev Paulan, DNR pilot. The pair nested, but the nest failed April 30, and they did not re-nest.
Spring 2016: Crane #1-10 and mate W1-06 migrated back to their Wisconsin territory and were seen on a nest during the May 19 and June 3 aerial surveys by Bev Paulan, DNR pilot. Their new chicks, W16-16 and W17-16, were first seen on June 2 and June 5 respectively, but neither chick survived into the summer.
Fall 2016: Pair #1-10 and #W1-06 were still in Juneau County, WI as of Nov. 25 but migrated in December to Greene County, Indiana for the winter.
Spring 2017: Pair #1-10 and #W1-06 were back in Wisconsin and nesting by early April. The pair re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan's May 12 flight. They hatched chick w11-17, still alive as of June 15!
Last updated: 6/16/17
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