Photo: Operation Migration
(wearing orange baby leg band)
Meet the Class of 2010 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2010 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 15-10

Date Hatched

May 24, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
 radio antenna

Temporary/migration band: green 15

  • 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:

A story about his parents: Chick #15-10 came from an egg laid right at Patuxent WRC. The parents were two Whooping Cranes called the “S35 pair,” a pair that has become one of my favorites. Because many of the captive birds are related, we often have to do “arranged” pairings. We let the two cranes live next door to get to know each other. Then we ‘date’ them, allowing them to share a pen, but under supervision, to make sure they get along. If they seem to like each other, they eventually progress to the point where they live together all the time, unsupervised. The process can last anywhere from a few weeks to over a year! Sometimes the birds don’t hit it off and we start over again, but in this case it worked. They formed a strong pair bond and have been producing chicks for several years. This year, S35 female laid the eggs that later hatched into #5-10, #15-10 and #16-10.

-Jane Chandler, Patuxent WRC

Crane #15 is an optimist and a champ.
Photo Operation Migration

Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:

Chick #15-10 left his birthplace and "Ground School" in Maryland and arrived by airplane at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on July 9 with other cohort 2 chicks. (What was his age on that day?)

Dr. Barry Hartup gave him a clean bill of health and #15-10 eagerly took off by himself to explore his new home at Canfield pen. Hiding in the observation blind, Geoff saw him playing in one of the water pans with #10-10. "From the way they were dipping their feet and sipping up the water, I think it’s the start of a beautiful friendship," said Geoff. It looks like #10-15 is right at home and ready for Flight School!

Even back in Patuxent WRC as a tiny chick, he loved being outdoors and ran around flapping his little bitty wings. In Wisconsin he’s usually one of the first ones out the gate for training.

The optimist: that's what Geoff calls #15-10. Even when he had a droopy wing that needed a sling and a slight limp, his spirits never faltered. He was never far behind the ultralight, always following up on #10's (Zoey’s) heels. "He’s gotten a little more assertive lately, but he hasn’t gotten nasty. I call him Louis. He gets along pretty well with #17-10."

Brooke calls #15-10 "Champ" because he's a champion at reporting for duty and trying his best every single time. He's always willing to do whatever is happening. He IS a champ!

As migration departure gets closer, Geoff said, "#15-10’s is a runt and he knows it. As far as he’s concerned, crane #2-10, and even the younger #17-10, can be top dogs, so long as he gets do his own thing."

First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #15-10 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 head for to the migration's first stopover site, even though he didn't go the distance. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #15-10 below.

October 10: A few miles into the Day 1 flight, #15 broke away from Richard's aircraft and Joe swooped in so the tired bird could fly with him. The Trike Cam let viewers watch #10-10 struggle to stay in the "sweet spot" behind Joe's wing, where he would get the benefit of the air currents rolling off the wingtip. Time and again, he would drop down low and have to flap fly, so eventually Joe landed with him in a recently harvested soybean field to let him rest. Soon they were airborne again but #15-10 wouldn't climb or cruise much above treetop level. That's when they came upon Richard's trike on a field below, so Joe decided to again land with #15. Brave #15 gave it a good try and finished the last two miles of the trip in a crate by road.

Day 63, Dec. 11: Yesterday was the last time all ten birds will fly together as a group. Today #15-10 and the other four birds that will winter at Chassahowitzka NWR flew 86 miles closer to their final destination! Only 86 miles to go!

Day 72, Jan. 14: Crane (15-10) did NOT want to come out of the pen today! Finally he did and pilots Joe and Richard had a rodeo with the Chass Five before they got on course to Marion County. One more flight to go!

Day 73, Jan. 15: First migration complete!

The Chass Five, free at the Florida release site.
Photo Eva Szyszkoski

Winter at the Chass Release Pen: Eva calls #15-10 the curious one. "He has to investigate anything new, especially involving the costume. This makes us have to be extra sneaky when we do things that require un-crane-like behavior, such as adding food to the feeders and scrubbing out the guzzler."

Spring 2011: He remained at the Chass pen site with #16 several days after their three flockmates left on April 4. The last two in the Class of 2010 to migrate finally left on Sunday, April 17. They roosted that night in Thomas County, Georgia. With favorable winds, they resumed migration the next day, April 18, at 9:15 a.m. and landed around 5:15 p.m. in Cherokee County, AL. They eluded tracker Eva the next morning (see Eva's report about that) and were not detected again until May 8, when Eva detected them in flight near Necedah NWR at 11:42 a.m. At 5:00 p.m. Eva saw them circling over a lake and they landed shoon after.

The remains of male #15-10 were found in Juneau County, Wisconsin on August 18. He had last been recorded alive as he flew over the northern half of the Necedah NWR on July 6 with female #16-10. Information provided by the landowner indicates that #15-10 died approximately August 8.

Last updated: 8/24/11


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