as a Chick
On September 20, he was transported with his entire cohort of Direct Autum Release chicks to Horicon Refuge to spend the next few weeks in an enclosure and under supervision. On Ocober 14 he was banded with his permanent leg band colors. On October 21 he was set free to hang out with sandhill cranes on the refuge. The team hopes he'll follow them south on migration, and learn where to go. Tracking Crew Chief Eva said that when the DAR birds were released, seven of them (including #16) hung out in one group by themselves; on Oct. 24 they flew a really big loop over the northern end of the refuge. On October 27th this group moved to a small area of marshland in Dane County. They spend the day foraging in some cut corn fields before returning to the marsh habitat to roost in the evening with a few dozen Sandhill cranes.
Fall 2011, First Migration: He departed southern Wisconsin and was detected in flight with #13-11 in northern Illinois on November 29. Their wintering location was still unknown as of Feb, 2012.
Spring 2012: This crane was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on March 8 and migrated back to Marquette County, Wisconsin sometime before April 19.
Fall 2012: Crane #16-11 (DAR) migrated and was reported in Indiana in January 2013. But he didn't stop there! In February, visitor Doug McCoy at the Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee spotted a lone white Whooping crane among a throng of gray Sandhill cranes. His photo confirmed it was #16-11 DAR!
Spring 2013: Crane #16-11 had completed migration by March 30. Here he is in August, photographed by Doug Pellerin while flying over Wisconsin's Horicon Refuge with Sandhill cranes:
Fall 2013: Remained at Horicon NWR in Wisconsin.
Spring 2014: Male #16-11 apparently nested with a female sandhill crane at Horicon NWR in Central Wisconsin
Fall 2014: Male #16-11 migrated from Horicon NWR in Wisconsin on November 18 and was last reported in Jasper County, Indiana, at the end of Dec 2014.
Spring 2015: Male #16-11 completed spring migration back to his Wisconsin nesting grounds the weekend of March 14-15. He mated with a female Sandhill Crane and they produced the very first hybrid chick in the Eastern Migratory Flock (EMP). Here's the family of three on May 28, 2015:
In July, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) and staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured #16-11's hybrid crane chick in eastern Wisconsin and will place the chick in captivity. As a hybrid, the chick is likely sterile and researcohers don't want a future pairing with another Whooping crane. Sucha pairing would do nothing to build the eastern flock's population. After a brief stay at Milwaukee County Zoo the chick will be moved to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, which has agreed to care for it in their captive facility in Maryland. o increase the chance that the male whooping crane will help build his species’ population in the future, WCEP has decided to attempt to break up the pair. It may involve the male being captured and temporarily placed in captivity near other free-ranging Whooping cranes if the logistics can be worked out. Final decision on the best method and timing to attempt to break up the pair have not been decided. If captured, WCEP will place a new radio transmitter on the male, which will allow the team to know his whereabouts over the coming winter/spring.
Male #16-11DAR is a vigilant father and has helped his Sandhill mate protect the young hybrid chick from predation. Researchers hope #16-11 can use his parenting skills in the future with a suitable (wild) Whooping crane mate.
Last updated: 7/24/15
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