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

Crane # 11-10

Date Hatched

May 18, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg

Temporary/migration band: black 11

  • 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:

Chick 11-10 did not ship to Necedah on July 9 with other birds in cohort 2 because of a respiratory illness. He stayed at Maryland's Patuxent WRC (where the chicks hatched) for another 2.5 weeks to recover and get stronger. Soon he was able to go to Wisconsin and join the other chicks in the Class of 2010.

Chick #11-10 arrived in Wisconsin July 11.
Chick #11-10 arrives July 27 at Necedah NWR
Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Chick 11-10 arrived at Necedah NWR on July 27 after a 1,000 mile road trip from Laurel, MD at 70 days of age. He and #4-10 arrived together after standing up the whole way in their crates. When pilot Brooke slid open the door of the crate, chick #11-10 strutted out, none the worse for wear. He was put into the same pen as his mates from Cohort 2, but a fence kept him apart from the other birds until the crew was be sure the birds will all 'play nice' together.

Already a beginning flier when he arrived at Necedah, he quickly became a great follower. But the team is concerned about #11-10's health. He wheezes and gasps after flights, but everyone is carefully watching him and hoping he'll grow out of it.

Geoff calls #11 the little brother, personality-wise, of #4. "Growing up, he may have been a thug who liked to pick on poor "Zoey" (#10-10). But #2-10 helped him grow out of that. He has an bad respiratory "bug," and he wheezes and rasp as hecomes to us. But that doesn’t stop him from flying a lap around the pen with all the other birds and trying to keep up. He wants to fly every bit as much as the next bird, wheeze or no wheeze. He may get tuckered out before everyone else, but we know that he was trying. I call him Whitaker."

Chicks #11 and #10 on August 30, mowing day.
Chick #11-10 and #10-10 on August 30, mowing day.
Photo Trish Gallagher, Operation Migration

On Aug. 30 Trish and Brooke had to lead all the chicks to a spot where they couldn't see or hear the mowing of the grass on the training strip. Chick #11-10 caused Trish some worry on the day the grass on the training strip was cut. She had to walk the birds a long distance away so they wouldn't see or hear the workers and mowers. Our boy #11-10 dawdled on the way out, and even flew back to the pen. Finally he came along, but on the way back he caused trouble again. He and #10-10 (Zoey) would fly short distances and then wait for Trish to catch up. Then #11-10 decided to land on the pen's top net! Trish worried about his leg poking through the netting and getting broken. Alone with the two birds, Trish didn't know what to do. She texted Charlie and Geoff but soon Brooke came. He calmly walked into the pen and put his hands under 11’s feet, gave him a boost, and watched him fly off! No problem!

Chick #11-10 often got trained alone because of his respiratory illness. Geoff said, "The poor fellow honks like a goose." On September 8 Geoff updated: "Last time he flew, he kept up with all his brothers and sisters. He sounds terrible, but he's still hanging in there." But on September 19 he just watched from the runway as the other birds took off. He then flew so far into the marsh that the costumed handlers wore themselves out trying to capture him. Finally they succeeded. They put him in a crate and carried the crate through the water all the way back to the pen. That day he just refused to fly. He was wheezing badly. As far as he’s concerned, classmates #2-10, and even the younger #17-10 can be top dogs, so long as he gets do his own thing.

The team tried again September 22 to train him alone and test his endurance. He took off with pilot Brooke but quickly landed in the marsh. Despite a number of attempts, he only flew far enough to land in the marsh next to the pen. By the time they got him out he was still wheezing badly so they put him back with his buddies.

The team planned to take him down to Madison for an examination on Sep. 23 to better evaluate his condition for being able to join the migration or end up as a display bird at a zoo, but the medical equipment was "down" so the doctor visit was rescheduled for Sep. 30.

"When it comes time to fly, it is hard to know what will happen with a young chick with a slight wheeze," says pilot Joe Duff. "The team took a chance sending him to Wisconsin and we are still hoping it was the right choice."

September 30: Pilot Joe Duff announced: Number 11 lost his battle for breath and was removed from the project today. A large mass was found in his trachea that was likely to grow. This was the cause of his ongoing respiratory problem. We were hoping against the odds that he would improve, but as the demands of flying increased, his capacity to keep up didn’t. We take small consolation in the fact that #11 will not have to struggle for breath and if the thirteen birds we have worked with all summer had been raised in the wild, only a few would have survived.. .but it is small consolation."

Last updated: 10/2/10

Back to "Meet the Flock 2010"