Meet the Class of 2014 Whooping Cranes
Hatch-year 2013 of the Eastern Flock

Back to Meet the Cranes 2014

Crane chick #14-03 as a baby
Image: Operation Migration

Crane # 3-14
Date Hatched May 13, 2014
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg

Temporary leg band: red

Personality and Training: Crane chick #3-14 is the little sister of #2-14 from eggs laid by a wild pair at Necedah NWR. She was the fluffiest-headed chick in the Class of 2014. She was introduced to the trike on May 19 at the age of 6 days. By May 26, #3 and her sister got along great. They happily went together around in the circle pen, following the trike.

Chick #3-14 gave the team a scare on June 25. They had a day out in the big White Series pond pen, where they learn to be social with one another. A Patuxent crane crew member led birds 2-14 through 9-14 back, while Geoff stayed back with 10-14 so she wouldn't get pecky with the other birds on the walk back. But when they all got back to the the pen, chick 3-14 was nowhere to be found! Always one of the last birds to make it back to her pen, she often got sidetracked by her search for worms and grubs and fell behind the group. This time, after a long, frantic search by everyone, she was found inside #2-14′s pen! She was never lost: She just wandered into the wrong pen by mistake.

#3-14 needed toe splints.
Toe Splints
Image: Operation Migration
Chicks 3 and 4 having a stand-off
Image: Operation Migration
Chick #3 on July 7 at Patuxent WRC
July 7, 2014
Image: Operation Migration
Chick #3's arrival in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Arrival
Image: Tom Schultz
Chick #4 on grass training strip in Wisconsin July 12
Flight School Begins
Image: Tom Schultz
The chicks all ran after the plane as it taxied to the end of the grassy training strip.
Chasing the Plane
Image: Crane Cam
Training on July 14
New Aircraft!
Image: Tom Schultz
First 2-minute flight!
Now Flying!
Image: Ruth Peterson
Despite the downtime due to recent poor weather, all the girls did great flying with the aircraft, logging over 15 minutes of air time by the week of August 25!
The "girls" flying with the aircraft Sept. 28
Flying Longer
Image: Tom Schultz

Ground crew team member Geoff says #3 has a certain sense of whimsy to her. "Some days she feels like flying, some days, not so much. It more or less depends on her mood. But when she tries, she's one of our better fliers. Also, every flock has a grape/smelt snatcher. And #3 fills that role with much gusto. She's still a good bird at heart."


Class of 2014 landing after training
Image: Tom Schultz
Fall 2014: Ultralight-Guided Migration South October 10 migration departure!

October 10, 2014: Migration Day 1! The six girls took off for their first migration stop. Crane #3 flew the distance to Stopover #1: four miles.

October 11, 2014: Day 2 Cranes #3-14 and #8-14 started off great, but the rest of the birds turned back. Instead of continuing the 14 miles to stop #2 with the two flying birds, the pilot turned back to Stopover #1 again and landed. The two were crated, along with #4-14, and driven to the second Stopover Site in Marquette County. Meanwhile, the other four turned back to their training site and had to be crated and driven. It was a long and disappointing day for the team!

October 16, 2014: Day 7 After being grounded by wrong winds or rain for 5 days, the birds were eager to move on. All seven formed up as pilot Richard took off, but the air grew trashy as they rose upward. They must have said NO WAY and turned back to their pen to await a day with better flight conditions! Attempted flight on Oct 16 with all 7 birds taking off