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

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Crane baby #10
Image: Operation Migration

Crane # 10-14
Date Hatched May 21, 2014
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg
   

Temporary leg band: white

Personality and Training: Crane chick #10-14 is the youngest in the Class of 2014 cohort. She is a full sister to chick #9-14.

At first, all the chicks got along well with each other except for 10-14. At the end of June, Geoff wrote: "She’s a bird who loves her space more than life itself, and any bird who’s in her three-foot bubble is in for a bad time. She’ll peck or chase them out of her comfort zone." Luckily, she's fine once the others get away from her. She has a lot to be sunny about, as her tough attitude has landed her the top spot in the pecking order. The chicks do their best to stay out of her way. It’s a challenge when another chick wants some food at a feeder, or wants to get near to "the costume," which #10 loves with all her heart!

In flight school in Wisconsin, chick #10 was shy of the gate and had to be coaxed out of the chicks' enclosure. After she's out onto the runway, she also has a bad habit of heading off into the field on her own. "Baaaaad girl! (and still not the most sociable)," said Heather at Operation Migration.

Crane 10 gets weighed
Getting Weighed
Image: Operation Migration
 
The three youngest chicks socialize at Patuxent WRC on June 13, 2014.
Three Youngest
Image: Operation Migration
 
Crane #10 on July 10 at Patuxent WRC in Maryland
Lying Down
Image: Operation Migration
 
Chick #10 was the first to step out of the crates when the chicks had arrived in Wisconsin.
First Step 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
 
By July, many crane-cam watchers nicknamed #10 "Marsha" because she hardly ever came out of the pen without being coerced out, and then she'd head into the marsh to poke around for food! But as the middle of August neared, shesuddenly was an entirely different crane. She started coming out of the pen just late enough to be fashionable– and then followed the small aircraft as it fired down the training strip and into the AIR! The first time, she actually flew two full minutes—and what a thrill for the team to see. Will this girl-bird turn out to be a great flyer and follower after all?
First flight!
First Flight!
Image: Ruth Peterson
 

Migration departure is justover a month away, and the chicks are doing better each day. By August 18, #10 had gone from being the "problem child" to eagerly exiting the pen and flying well with the trike!

By the week of August 25, all the girls did great flying with the aircraft, logging over 15 minutes of air time despite the downtime due to recent poor weather.

#10's wingspan, August 19, 2014
Wings to be Proud Of
Image: Tom Schultz
 
Crane #10 on August 18, 2014
Good Flyer
Image: Deb Johnson
 
The "girls" flying with the aircraft Sept. 28
Flying Longer
Image: Tom Schultz

Crane #10 likes to hold out on the runway after training and needs to be coerced into returning to the pen. The team is thankful that she has stopped her habit of dropping off into the marsh, earning her the nickname "Marsha."

Fall 2014: Ultralight-Guided Migration South

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

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 10 migration departure!
Migrating!
Image: Operation Migration

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
Disappointing Day
Image: Tom Schultz

October 26, 2014: Day 17 Finally a fly day! Cranes #10, #3 and #8 were off to a good start, but #10 later dropped out. She was probably distracted by the other four cranes who had dropped out. Those five birds were crated and driven Stopover #3 in Columbia County, Wisconsin, while #3 and #8 flew the whole 28 miles.

November 3, 2014: Day 23 It was a great take-off for all seven birds, but it didn't last. They all dropped, out one by one.

Cranes #4 and #10 after dropping out in a cornfield
#10 and #4 Drop Out
Image: Operation Migration

November 7, 2014: Day 29 Today the team flew the birds in two separate shifts on a short 5-mile leg to an interim stop in Dane County, Wisconsin. Success! The photo shows cranes #4, 9 and 10, who were in the second group. All few the distance with Richard to join their flockmates in Dane County, WI.

Flying to Dane County, WI.
November 13, 2014: LEAP TO TENNESSEE! With no change in Wisconsin's grim weather outlook, the team performed a first: They boxed up and transported this year’s group of cranes 600 miles by vehicle to start over again where the weather should be better. Thiis the longest segment of the migration route that will not be flown by the cranes since the initiation of this reintroduction in 2001. The birds were crated after sunset so the move could take place overnight, taking advantage of low light conditions, the least amount of traffic, and the time of day when the cranes would normally be roosting and less active. Cranes seldom eat or drink during the night so they were well hydrated and nourished before going to roost in their crates. The plan seems to have worked well. Upon release the next day, the happy birds ran right to a costumed Colleen for grape treats. The effects of not flying such a large section of the migration route are unknown, but the team is hopeful. Alas, the weather in Tennessee kept them grounded the first few days.
November 25, 2014: Day 47 Cranes #10 and #4 were held back today while all the others flew 65 miles with Joe's plane. All seven birds are now in Hardin County, TN. with 9 more stops to go!