Meet the Class of 2010 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2010 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 17-10

Date Hatched

May 26, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
 radio antenna

Temporary/migration band: dark blue 17

  • 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: It was very early in my crane career at Patuxent when captive "B11" female laid her first fertile egg. In the early years of the crane program at Patuxent, the birds could not produce fertile eggs without assistance. It was discovered that the Whooping cranes need to remain full-winged in order to breed naturally, so we put top-netting over the pens and did not clip their wing feathers. B11 was the first pair that had the opportunity to be naturally fertile and in 1991 laid their first fertile egg. I can’t describe the great excitement at Patuxent when that first chick hatched. An important milestone had been achieved. B11 pair has since produced many chicks for release. In 2010 they are the parents of #17-10.
-Jane Chandler, Patuxent WRC

Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Chick #17-10 left the "hatchery" 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?) This group will live at "Canfield site" until the two cohorts join together when they are a bit older. Male #17-10 got a clean bill of health at his arrival health check. He was glad to be set free in Canfield pen with the other new arrivals and took off to explore and find tasty bugs and frogs. Later he joined the other chicks in the shade to escape the hot Wisconsin sun.

Even though he's the youngest bird, #17-10 is fairly independent. "But he’s not like #2-10, who doesn’t want to be bothered, or #3-10 who thinks she’s Big Stuff, or #10-10 (Zoey), who’s probably off in la-la land as you read this. He just likes the outdoors every bit as much as #15-10 (Louis) does. Even when he was just a little chick being walked, he always ran around holding out his bitty wings, as if to say, 'Look, I’m flying like a big kid!' It was always fun to see him and #15 (Louis) running around together. However, #17 is a little more daring. He’s not afraid to go off in the brush to explore what’s on the other side. A lot of times when we let the birds out of their flooded dry pen to rest on the grass runway, #17-10 would be off in the marsh with #10 (Zoey), scoping things out. He can be one of the last birds to go back in the pen. It's not because he hates being bossed around by the costume, but because he’s not done exploring yet!" Geoff's personal name for #17-10 is Bill.

When the costumes were releasing the Cohort One group to fly with the ultralight on September 14, #17-10 and #10-10 were watching from inside the pen, eager for their turn. They somehow sneaked out when the handlers weren't looking and took off with the older birds! Both flew the entire 25 minutes with the older birds. Well done, #17!!

For the first few times all 13 birds finally mixed together on the runway ouside the pen, this daring young male didn’t take kindly to #1-10, #3-10, #4-10, and #6-10! He didn’t care for the no-nonsense #2-10 either, which could be a mistake because #2 is the top bird of all. Will his daring get him into trouble?

First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #17-10 left Necedah NWR on his first migration on October 10, 2010 but turned back shortly after take off to the first pen site he had known when he arrived in Wisconsin. #17 had landed. Geoff waited with 17 until 9-05 flew over to defend his territory and chased 17 away. The young bird landed on the top net! After fruitlessly trying to convince #17 to get off the topnet, Brooke finally took it down. Hot and tired, #17 gratefully headed for a drink. Then he made the 23-mile trip in a crate by road. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #17-10 below.

Oct. 17: Crane #17-10 was a loyal follower of the trike that led him from takeoff today. 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."

All Days: Crane #17-10 gave a great performance, a loyal and dependable follower!
#17-10 gets leg bands at Gilchrist County pen site.
Photo Fran Miglore

Day 63, Dec. 11: Yesterday was the last time all ten birds will fly together as a group. Today #16-10 and the other four birds that will winter at Chassahowitzka NWR flew 86 miles closer to their final destination! They're now in Gilchrist County, with only two more flights to go! [They would have to wait for their next flight until January 14, 2011 due to reason's beyond the team's control.]

Day 72, Jan. 14: Finally in the air again! After so many days in the pen, the Chass Five gave pilots Joe and Richard a rodeo before they got on course to Marion County and the flyover arrival celebration. One more flight gets them to their winter home!

Day 73, Jan. 15: First Migration complete!

Winter at the Chass Release Pen: Of the five Chass youngsters, male #17-10 "is the troublemaker, reports Eva. "He’s at the top of the social structure and won’t let the others forget it! He’s even started challenging the costume!" Eva is watching over the cranes and will track them as they migrate on their own, back to their Wisconsin home.

Male #17-10 is the dominant chick at Chass. Identify #17 by looking at the band colors!
Photos Eva Szyszkoski
In early March, Eva noticed #17 had a sore leg. He did not want to stand on it. "We don’t know what happened to him to cause this, but I can’t see anything visibly wrong with the leg, so he probably tweaked a muscle or something, said Eva. The good news: "We only medicated him 6 times but even the next day after I noticed it was lame, it was already getting better."

Spring 2011: He began his first northward migration on April 4 from the Florida pen site with flock mates #3 and 9! PTT readings for that night put them in Terrell County, Georgia, about 240 miles from Chass. The second stop (night of 5 April) was in Alabama, about 100 miles NW of their first stop. After further stops in Clark County, IN, Livingston County, IL and Lee County, IL, Cranes #3, 9 and 17 were confirmed —still together —at their 6th migration stop (Sauk County, Wisconsin) on April 15. They moved a little south again before officially completing migration.

Fall 2011: Crane #17-10 wintered with #9-10 in Levy/Marion County, Florida.

Spring 2012: Crane #17-10 was reportd alone in Sauk County, Wisconsin on April 4, so he splt from #9-10 at some point between March 8 and April 4. He remained in Sauk County through at least Paril 27. He was next discovered in Juneau County, Wisconsin, with DAR juvenile #19-11. These two remained together through most of May and then split up when #17-10 moved to the refuge, where he was observed with various cranes thoughout the summer.

Fall 2012: Crane #17-10 migrated south to the same location in Marion/Levy Counties in Florida.

Spring 2013: He was confirmed back on the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on April 5. He soon joined with W1-10 (who had split from #34-09 earlier). But on August 20 his remains were collected on his summering territory. Trackers had data that showed his death likely had happened between July 2 and July 23. He was defenseless as he was iin molt (the process where new feathers grow in and replace old beathers, making the bird flightless during the molt time).

Last updated: 9/3/13