Meet the Whooping Crane Class of 2015
Hatch-year 2015 of the Eastern Flock
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Crane 61-15 DAR
International Crane Foundation
Crane # 61-15 DAR (Mendota)
Date Hatched June 25, 2015
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg

Personality and Training:

The eldest of the cohort, WCEP 61-15, is named Mendota—after the largest of the four lakes surrounding Madison. Good-natured and small-framed all through chick-dom, Mendota was often picked on by the younger, larger chicks but isn’t afraid to stand her ground as second in command.

She was banded October 21. On November 3 the DAR colts were not put back in the pen and were allowed to come and go as they pleased. This was their release to freedom and wildness. They soon were flying and hanging out with sandhills and one adult whooper, #18-11. Now we just need them to stay with the adult and migrate!

Cranes 63 (left) and 62 (right) after banding and before migration
Banded: #63 left, #61 right
Fall 2015: On Dec 19, Crane #61-15 DAR, (with DAR flock mates 62-15, 63-15, and 67-15) departed from Horicon NWR without following adult Whooping Cranes or sandhills. They headed south. They stayed in McHenry County, Illinois for 10 days, then continued south and eventually southwest to the border of Randolph Couty, Illinois and Sainte Genevieve County, Missouri.

Spring 2016: As of March 31, cranes 61-15, 62-15, 63-15, and 67-15 were still located together in Randolph Co, IL. but since then this foursome moved east and then north into Saginaw County, Michigan, followed next by a move to St. Claire, County, MI. In mid April, Operation Migration's Joe Duff and Heather Ray, en route from homes in Ontario to Wisconsin, stopped to check on the four DAR cranes. Then in Genesee County, Michigan, the cranes looked healthy and were gobbling waste corn from a field. We hope that these four will retrace their flight, and get on the west side of Lake Michigan and back to the core reintroduction area with the rest of the flock.

The four wayward DAR cranes did indeed arrive home in Marquette County, Wisconsin, the first week in May—but they had to be captured and transported back from Michigan on May 5. Moving them back to Wisconsin, everyone hoped, would reorient them and give them a better chance of finding mates in the future. Their telemetry data indicated they moved southeast to Horicon NWR in Dodge County, where they were released last fall. Welcome home!

But wait! The wandering foursome of DAR kids then appeared to follow the Mississippi river until they arrived back at their wintering location in Randolph County, IL – by May 27. There they remained!

DAR cranes in Michigan before their capture  and transport in May
Fall 2016: DAR cranes 61-15(F), 62-15(M), 63-15(M), and 67-15(F) remained at their wintering area in Randolph Co, IL, where they also spent the summer after a brief spring return to Wisconsin. On Dec. 18, #61-15 and #67 went south into southwestern Missouri and western Tennessee after #62-15 died after striking a power line. Bythe end of December the two returned again to the wintering grounds in Randolph County and rejoined #63-15, who never left.
Spring 2017: The three pals (DAR 61-15, DAR 63-15 and DAR 67-15) returned to Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin the first week in April! Will they stay? They were still there as of May 23.
DAR cranes 61, 67 and 63 after returning to Wisconsin in April, 2017
Doug Pellerin
Last Updated: 5/23/2017