Personality, Early Training
Chick 4 is the moody sibling to 3-11, reports Geoff. But he has to give her credit for already for eating and drinking by herself at a mere two days of age. However, Goff said nothing would get #4 to go near either the big or the small water jug: "It was as if those jugs had grown a second head and scared her!" Notes on the chick's chart said that sometimes she only drank from a gold bowl she used back when she was in the ICU. But Geoff figured if he could get her to drink out of a jug once, he could do it again. After 20 minutes of trying, Geoff gave up and went in search of the gold bowl so the chick would drink. "I took it back to the kitchen to fill it up with some nice, cool, clean water. By the time I got back, I found her drinking out the large jug completely on her own, like that jug was her best friend in the whole wide world. Kids!" Speaking of water, chick #4 liked to swim (photo).
Caleb called her pretty mellow. "Every now and then #3 and #4 peeped or paced, but they usually only did it because some other bird got them worked up. But these two were never the first ones to break down, and they were the first to calm back down when they saw the costume again. I guess girls really do mature faster than boys. They are maturing faster than #4's brother, #3-11."
from "Flight School" at White River Marsh in Wisconsin:
By August 1, none of the colts were able to take off with the trike quite yet. But #4 (along with #2 and #6) try to follow the trike as it gains altitude. They usually end up looping around and going in for a landing. These three are the best fliers.
By August 16, #4 was among the three best fliers, able to fly behind and follow the ultralight plane. On August 27, when all ten birds finally took off with the ultralight, she was one of the six who stayed airborne until the end of the flight. She remains a leader and a good influence on the others.
On August 22 she didn't take off on the pilot's first two runs, but NO one took off on the third pass until swamp monster scared them all into the air. Some couldn't catch up with the plane, but #4 did, and followed the plane all the way to a remote field. She and the other five got treats before the pilot led them on the flight back to the pen. Yay, #4!
Migration departure week: Geoff sums up crane #4-11:
"Caleb and I agree that 4-11 is probably our most shy bird. I don't see
her interact much with the other birds or the costume. But unlike some
of our other birds, she doesn't get hostile when company approaches her.
She just tries to slip off somewhere else. She's often one
of the last birds to come into the pen after training because she doesn't
like approaching the costume (unless it has a grape to offer her, and
then it's her new best friend).
First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane:
Crane #4-11 successfully flew to Stopover #1 on day 2 of the migration, Oct. 10. She was the only one of the seven cranes who did what the pilots hoped all seven would do on the second day of trying. She was one of only four to fly the distance on the flight to Stopover #2. Again, she was one of only three birds to fly the distance to Stopover #3. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #4-11 below.
Crane #4 gets her deworming medicine inside a grape, since she wont' touch a smelt with a 10-foot pole. (Cranes usually love to eat smelt, a tasty small fish, in which the team puts de-worming medicine so the cranes will get their meds.)
Oct. 22, Day 14: Crane #4 was one of only four birds that flew instead of being crated and driven to today's Stopover.
Oct. 28, Day 20: Again the great Crane #4 flew the distance. She had an unexpected landing when Richard landed with his five birds rather than risk losing #6 as it spooked and staring dropping out. Trackers came to the scene and crated #6 for the drive. But after a rest, Richard and cranes 1, 4, 9 and 10 took off and finished the flight! They flew the remaining 20 miles in a headwind, which took almost an hour.
Oct. 29, Day 21: A GREAT day! Crane #4—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 abig flock of wild sandhills.)
Nov. 20, Day 43: After 15 down days, the birds and trikes finally got to fly again! Crane #4 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 #4-11!
Spring 2012: First Unaided Migration North:
Whooping cranes 4, 3, 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. On June 19 and 29, crane #4-11 was REALLY home, roosting on White River Marsh about a mile from the pen site where she fledged last summer, according to Heather Ray at Operation Migration's headquarters. (They could not determine if the group of four is still together.)
Fall 2012: Migrated south to Wheeler NWR in Alabama.
Spring 2013: Completed migration back to Wisconsin on March 29 together with #3, #5 and #6 from her 2011 cohort. The photo below was taken in early April when she was with the two adult Whooping cranes whose usual territory is Adams County, but none of her classmates were around. "She looks awesome,” said Doug, who is part of the Operation Migration ground crew each summer and fall.
Fall 2013: Migrated to Wheeler NWR in Alabama with other whoopers.
Spring 2014: Crane #4-11, 3-11, 17-11, 19-11, pair #26-09 & 27-06 and DAR 38-09 began migration from the Wheeler NWR in Alabama on 15-18 February. This large group was reported in Gibson County, Indiana, on 21 February. They then moved to Lawrence County, Illinois, by the next day and were seen with an eighth (and unknown) bird. ID on this last bird is still pending, however tracker Eva believes that it might be #26-10. After migration, crane #4-11 took a new mate: #29-09.
Fall 2014: Migrated south to Greene County, Indiana, where she as seen in December with cranes #29-09, #12-02 and his youngster W3-14, and #19-10 DAR. This group left left Greene County, Indiana, and moved south to Lawrence County, Alabama, the first week in January. This group returned to Greene County, Indiana on February 7, 2015, where they remain.
Spring 2015: Crane #4-11 had returned to Wood County, Wisconsin by March 26. She was reported on an active nest with male #12-02 in early May, but they had no nesting success this spring.
Fall 2015: Female #4-11 and her mate #12-02 were confirmed in Green County, Indiana by November 12 after migrating sometime within the two previous weeks. Several other whoopers from the eastern flock were also in Green County, IN.
Spring 2016: Female #4-11 and mate #12-02 were observed on their Wisconsin territory by March 30. They nested and were first seen with their little chick, W3-16, on May 3. The chick was still alive as of June 1 but in sad news, its father, male #12-02, was found dead a few days later. He was one of the oldest survivors in the entire flock. There was no sign of injury or predation, and his mate and chick were still fine as of the June 17 aerial survey.
Last updated: 06/17/16
Back to "Meet the Flock 2011"