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

Back to Meet the Cranes 2014

Crane chick #14-09 as a baby
Image: Operation Migration

Crane # 9-14
Date Hatched May 19, 2014
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg

Temporary migration leg band: yellow
Backpack transmitter

Personality and Training: Crane chick #9-14 has a little sister (#10-14) in the Class of 2014. She was timid from the start, reluctant to exit her pen and enter the “Big World.” On May 26 Brooke was sure she would be ready, But no! On May 30, still no. It was like she was yelling, “No way, Jose!” When she finally did follow the costumed Brooke out, it was not far and not long before she turned and ran in panic back to the pen. She had no trust. After a number of failed attempts to win her confidence, Brooke said, "I was ready to call Colonel Sanders to come make a pickup." Then Sharon, another team member, offered to try. Costumed up, out into the afternoon heat she went, working her magic on the scared little #9. Using meal worms and patience, she coaxed #9 out the gate, one long, slow, confidence-building step at a time. After a long, calm rest in the nurturing shade of a nearby tree, the little chick trusted Sharon enough to follow her back into her pen. Sharon’s magic held its power. After a couple of days, #9 was right back in the lineup. She handled long walks with no trouble. Next came Flight School in Wisconsin. These images help tell the story:




Meeting the trike takes some comforting by the costumed handler.
Baby Steps
Image: Operation Migration
The three youngest chicks in the Class of 2014
Three Youngest
Image: Operation Migration
Chick #9 on July 7
July 7, 2014
Image: Operation Migration
Arrival day in Wisconsin!
Wisconsin Arrival
Image: Tom SChultz


Exploring in Wisconsin
Exploring in Wisconsin
Image: Tom SChultz
Chicks and Costume on training strip
Feeling at Home
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
The chicks' feathers are changing.
Changing Feathers
Image: Tom Schultz
The "girls" flying with the aircraft Sept. 28
Flying Longer
Image: Tom Schultz
September 16: Crane #9 was one of three cranes to get the new backpack transmitters used this year for the first time. This new way to track uses new technologies that make batteries last longer. "There are negatives to attaching anything to a free-flying bird, but the risk of injury is low, and there is a lot to be learned," writes Joe Duff.

On September 26, the backpack transmitters were removed from all three birds wearing them: #2, #7 and #9. The team observed that the backpack transmitters inhibited the cranes' normal flight ability. The next day, all sixcranes again flew just great, and for a duration of 20 minutes and 9 seconds. Go cranes!

Crane #9 wears the new backpack transmitter, with tracking aerial visible.
Backpack Transmitter
Image: Operation Migration
Fall 2014: Ultralight-Guided Migration South October 10 migration departure!
Image: Operation Migration

October 10, 2014: Migration Day 1! The six girls took off for their first migration stop. After a couple of circuits, #9 dropped off and landed in front of the pen site, but he got another chance. Richard came in the new aircraft and with assistance from Swamp Monster (aka Jo-Anne wearing a scary, noisy tarp), convinced #9-14 that it was time to leave with Richard's aircraft. He did, and flew over the public flyover site, with about 20 people silently cheering him on to the first stopover site, 4 miles away.

October 11, 2014: Day 2 Cranes #2, 7, 9 and 10 took off but dismayed the team when they returned to their old White River Marsh training pensite instead of following the plane to Stopover #2. This has never happened in the team's past 13 seasons of leading cranes on migration! All were put in crates and driven to stop #2 in Marquette County, Wisconsin: 14 miles.

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