Photo: Operation Migration
(She wears her white baby leg band.)
Meet the Class of 2010 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2010 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 4-10

Date Hatched

May 5, 2010



Egg Source

Calgary Zoo, Canada

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg

Temporary/migration band: dark blue 4

  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.

Personality, Early Training
Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:

At first chick #4-10 got picked on by older female chick #3-10. But before long the older chick stopped it and soon #3-10 and #4-10 lived together in the same outdoor pen. They became training partners and got along just great. She did not travel to Wisconsin for flight school with other Cohort #1 chicks on June 30 because she was healing from a sudden infection. She was not yet well enough to go on July 9 when the cohort #2 chicks made the airplane trip to Necedah NWR. Experts hoped she will get well and come later to be part of the Class of 2010—and she did!

Before she was born: Chick #4-10 had already traveled many miles before hatching. A man named Dwight is the flock manager for the captive Whooping cranes at Calgary Zoo in Canada. He and other crane experts get the eggs of those cranes delivered to important Whooping crane projects. In spring 2010 Dwight carefully packed some fresh crane eggs in a portable incubator long before you were even awake. Then he spent hours getting them warmly and safely through airport security, customs officials, and traffic. He brought the eggs all the way from Calgary, Canada to Maryland, USA. The eggs were tucked into the incubator at Patuxent WRC. Those eggs hatched into chicks #2-10 and #4-10. They were later joined by #10-10 and #12-10, also from Calgary.

-Jane Chandler, Patuxent WRC

Her first day at Necedah NWR
Photo Heather Ray

Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Arrived in Wisconsin for flight school on July 27 when she was 83 days old after traveling almost 1,000 miles by road trip from Laurel, MD. in a crate in a van. Brooke met the van in Indiana and drove the #4-10 and #11-10 the rest of the way to Wisconsin. He was worried about #4-10's history of leg problems because she had to stand up in her crate the whole trip. But when he opened the crate at her new home in Wisconsin, out she popped. She was a little unsure at first but wasn't limping. Hooray! Soon she was airborne on a short flight to the pen door, then safely inside with her cohort mates. A fence kept her apart from the other birds until the crew could be sure they would all 'play nice' together.

By Aug. 9, she and the other 7 young cranes in Cohort One were flying! They were able to follow the ultralight plane in in large circles around the North Training site. She is easy to identify in the air because her injured leg hangs down, or dangles, a bit.

"She does not like to give up," says Geoff. "And considering the road she took getting here, that’s not surprising. Even with her leg, she’d still fly after the trike to best of her ability. It doesn’t matter to her that one of her legs dangles as she flies. She really wants to do her best. She’ll occasionally drop out during training. But once she catches her breath, she’ll at least give it another one more go before it’s time to go back inside. Her flying’s been getting consistently better; we can always spot her flying right behind the ultralight with her dangling leg."

October 7: The star of the flock has died. Joe Duff announced: "Tonight we lost number 4. She was found during the evening roost check with no obvious signs to tell us what happened. There was no mass of lost feathers that you might expect if aggression was the problem and certainly no predator had made it past the steel wire or the electric fencer. All we know is that one of our best birds is gone on the eve of the migration.

"When the migration starts, all of us will be thinking of #4-10 and wishing we could see her dangling leg off the wing tip one more time. Many of us will fly a fine migration in honor of her."

NOTE: A necropsy showed that $4 had a broken neck. It may have been caused by jumping up and hitting the top net too hard.

Photo Operation Migration

Last updated: 1/17/11

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