But it wasn't long before Brooke had nicknamed him "Squeaker." Even when a costumed caretaker was keeping him company, #3 peeped or paced. Brooke and Geoff could usually identify #3-11 because he was pacing under the plastic crane decoy. (Still, he still paused to forage or catch a drink) To be fair, all the kids freaked out a little at one point or another, either because they heard rifles going off at nearby Fort Meade, or adult birds in the next pens over were alarm calling. But 3-11 doesn’t calm down often. He gets the other birds nervously nervously peeping too if a costumed person doesn’t come back by him. Geoff, Brooke and Caleb hope #3 will get better as the days go by. He's a worrywart!
By mid June he was finally brave enough to take a dip in the large pond. This is important for cooling off on hot days. He showed a little more independence when the whole group was together. Geoff was concerned that #3's worrisome and clingy attitude would hold the group up and keep them from maturing sooner, but there are a few hopeful signs of progress.
from "Flight School" at White River Marsh in Wisconsin:
By the end of August, all ten could get airborne with the trike. On August 27, #3 was one of the four cranes that turned back, even after bribes and treats to make him follow. A few of the chicks always turn back. But the surprising thing about #3 is that he still has no interest in leaving the runway, even if he takes off with the others. What is he thinking?
Well, he changed his tune in September. HE's now one of the cranes to consistently take off with the trike! The team dubbed this crane the "gardener," as he loves to probe and peck at the shrubbery in the wet pen.
Crane #3 challenged the injured #1, but soon discovered that #1 still wants to be top crane. When the two birds locked eyes, #3 was first to look away in submission.
Migration departure week: Geoff sums up
crane #3-11: "He's almost a '1-11 Lite.' Since he's one of our older
and bigger birds, he's one of the more dominant ones. However,
not as pecky as 1-11 is. Deep down though, I think #3 is the bird who most
wants to de-throne 1-11. As I stated before, there were a couple
times he challenged #1's right to rule a couple times after #1's traumatic
experience of getting lost in the marsh. None of his challenges panned
out, but #3 is the only one I know of who even attempted a coup. The other
First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane:
Crane #3-11 did not make it to the first stopover on Day 1 or Day 2. Instead, he (and the other 4 males in the class of 2011) had to be crated and driven on Davy 3 after they again failed to fly. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #3-11 below.
Oct. 22, Day 14: Crane #3 was one of five birds that had to be crated and driven to the next stopover because they wouldn't fly and follow the ultralight.
Oct. 28, Day 20: Crane #3 (along with #12) stuck with Brooke's ultralight the whole flight today, even after #7 turned around and left them.
Oct. 29, Day 21: Crane #3—and all nine other birds in the Class of 2011—flew the distance today! It's the first day of the migration for the whole group to go the whole way. (The class is down to nine because missing crane #2-11 turned up with a big flock of wild sandhills.)
Nov. 20, Day 43: After 15 down days, the birds and trikes finally got to fly again! Crane #3 blasted out of the pen and flew one hour and 17 minutes with Richard's plane to Piatt County, IL.
February 4, 2012: The nine cranes in the ultralight-led Class of 2011 became the first to finish their migration in a road vehicle. They were crated at the travel pen in Winston County, Alabama and driven to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to finish the winter and learn to be independent. Banding took place February 8. Brooke will watch over them as they slowly become wild and free. Check this bio page for further news in the life of of crane #3-11!
Spring 2012: First Unaided Migration North:
Whooping cranes 3, 4, and 6-11 are traveling together, as the WCEP tracking team detected radio signals from all three at the same location. It was later learned that crane #5 was also with this group. The group with #3, #4, #5, and #6 arrived in southern Columbia County, WI., approximately 40 miles south of the White River Marsh SWA on April 20, eight days after departing the Wheeler NWR where they wintered. WELL DONE! By May 14 (photo below) they had not moved much and were still together. Hardly any sign remains of their rust-colored chick feathers. On May 31 a citizen scientist sent a photo of the four of them, still together, in Green Lake County, WI. This location is less than 3 miles from where they took their first flights with Operation Migration's aircraft last summer.
Fall 2012: Migrated south to Wheeler NWR in Alabama.
Spring 2013: Completed migration back to Wisconsin on March 29 together with #4, #5 and #6 from his 2011 cohort.
Last updated: 4/6/13
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