Photo: International Crane Foundation
Meet the Class of 2011 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2011 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 16-11 (DAR)

Date Hatched

June 15, 2011



Egg Source

Leg Bands

(Attached before fall migration)

Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)


  • Read more about the raising and naming of the DAR chicks.
    *Scroll to bottom for most recent history.*

Personality as a Chick
Grasshopper presented some challenges his first couple of days. Handlers said it was hard to teach this chick to eat. Even when he did start eating well, Grasshopper was extremely active both indoors and outdoors so it was hard to keep him growing! Grasshopper was only a challenge until he was able to explore the outside world. "The chick follows quickly and is very responsive to the costume," says intern Jackie. "Grasshopper an adorable and fun little bird." One of Grasshopper's favorite treats in the yard is spiderwort. Stay tuned for more news about Grasshopper.

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.
Images: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Migration History

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!

Crane #16-11 at Hiwassee in TN in Feb. 2013

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:

Cfrane d11-16 DAR flyng over Horicon Refuge with Sanshill cranes in August, 2013

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). Male #16-11DAR is a vigilant father and has helped his Sandhill mate protect the young hybrid chick from predation. Here's the family of three on May 28, 2015:

Whoophill chick (hybrid) and its Whooping Crane father and Sandhill Crane mother

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 by September placed the colt in captivity in ICF's Crane City, but not on exhibit. They hope to pair it with an existing bird in their collection for companionship. (As a hybrid, the chick is likely sterile and researchers don't want a future pairing with another Whooping crane. Such a pairing would do nothing to build the eastern flock's population.)

To increase the chance that male Whooping crane #16-11 DAR will help build his species’ population in the future but with a suitable (wild) Whooping crane mate, WCEP has decided to attempt to break up the pair. Final decision on the best method and timing to attempt to break up the pair have not been decided. 

Fall 2015:

Spring 2016: Still together, male cranes 16-11 DAR and 18-11 DAR were already back at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin by mid March. However, 16-11 DAR was captured on April 8 at Horicon and relocated to a holding pen at Necedah NWR until after breeding season is over. He got a replacement transmitter (VHF) and was released on April 12 on Necedah. Male #16-11 proved he is a successful father, and that's why it's critical for him to pair with another Whooping crane. We hope he'll find a female Whooping crane (NOT a female Sandhill: see Spring 2015, above) at Necedah. He was observed July 1st, 2016, at Horicon Marsh in Dodge County, WI—alone and not with his former mate(a Sandhill female). He spent the remainder of the summer there, among about six Sandhill cranes.




Last updated: 9/4/16

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