from "Flight School" at White River Marsh in Wisconsin:
Crane #9 isn't too interested in the wild blue yonder, or in leaving the runway even after she takes off. Geoff said, "We saw her flying once or twice in mid-July," wrote Geoff, but she became a stick-in-the-mud in August. She may fly one day but not the next. What would get her excited about following the ultralight? The team kept trying. On August 22, none of the birds would leave the runway on the third pilot attempt, so swamp monster was deployed to scare them into the air. Then all of them left the runway with the trike but could not catch up completely. Crane #9-11 returned to the runway. However, by September she was flying and following a little better.
Crane #9 also shows particular interest in sticks and roots. "Twice we watched her dismantle the water depth gauge in the wetpen. And she often will toss sticks into the air when she finds one by probing under water. She's very protective of her sticks and roots!" reports Heather, who takes turns "driving" the crane cam.
A week before migration, Caleb noted that "9-11 would be described best as testy. Of all the birds, she is the only colt to have stomped at me on multiple occasions. Approaching this girl from behind or flank is a guaranteed method to set her off; actually, even advancing from the front has aggravated her before. She definitely has a larger ‘personal space’ than any of the other birds and if you breach the perimeter she lets you know rasping, flapping and stomping at you until you back off."
Migration departure week: Geoff sums up crane #9: "A
grouchy little bird. I don't think she likes the other birds too much,
and I know she doesn't like the costume very much. Every time we
her, she starts threat
posturing and buffeting us away from her with her wings. I've
never seen a chick as young as her stand up straight, point her head
down and stamp her feet at me. She was doing this to me
and Caleb as early as July. I've seen birds like #6 wing buffet us,
but the only other bird who actually threat postures us is #1 (of course).
She doesn't growl at us yet, but I think she will once her voice starts
to change. Normally, she only does this if you try to get close to her.
But Brooke claims she's gone up to the trike and challenged him on a
couple of occasions.
First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane:
Crane #9-11 did not make it to the first stopover on Day 1 or Day 2. Instead, she (plus all 5 of the males in the class of 2011) had to be crated and driven to stopover #1 after they again failed to fly on Day 3. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #9-11 below.
They were stalled by weather at this stop until Day 14.
Oct. 22, Day 14: After being stalled several days by un-flyable weather at Stopover #1, Crane #9 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.
Day 20, Oct. 28, 2011: Crane #9 flew the distance despite challenging events today. She had an unexpected landing when Richard landed with his five birds rather than risk losing #6 as it spooked and staring dropping out. After a rest (when #6 was crated and driven away), 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.
Day 21, Oct. 29, 2011: A GREAT day! Crane #9—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 #9 blasted out of the pen and flew the 59 miles 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 #9-11!
Spring 2012: First Unaided Migration North:
Sad news came when the carcass of female #9-11 was discovered in Polk County, Wisconsin, on July 6. It was near a road and some power lines.
Last updated: 7/24/12
Back to "Meet the Flock 2011"