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Eastern Flock Chicks: Hatch Year 2016
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Meet the Class of 2016 Chicks
Parent-reared (PR)

Last updated May 23, 2017

PR #29-16
Male
PR #30-16
Male
PR #31-16
Male
PR #32-16
Female
PR #33-16
Female
PR #34-16
Female
PR #37-16
Male
PR #38-16
Male
PR #39-16
Male
PR #69-16
Female
PR #70-16
Male
PR #71-16
Female
    #W7-16
Male

About this Year's Chicks
Twelve of this year's 13 cranes were captive-born and raised by their own parents in a captive-breeding facility where there was minimal human contact and no costumed handlers. They were transported in September 2016 to the eastern flock's summer range in Wisconsin. All but one were then released near selected wild Whooping Cranes to see whether the adults are likely to act as alloparents (wild cranes that serve as adoptive parents). The hope is that the chicks learn to fly and then migrate with adoptive parents. Only one of the 13 cranes, W7-16, was wild-born and would have learned to migrate by following its own parents. See this summary chart.

PR Crane #29-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 24 along with PR colts #34-16 (F) and #39-16 (M) in Adams County near target alloparents Crane #24-09 and Crane #42-09. Young PR #29-16 and PR 39-16 stayed there. They first attempted to follow the target alloparents to their roost spot on the evening of October 10 but the youngsters turned back after flying a mile and a half. As of Oct. 23 the two colts, dubbed "Mutt" (#29-16) and "Jeff" (#39-16) by their observers Colleen and Brooke, were still foraging in and around a harvested ag field while hunters, harvesters, and trappers also used the land. Mutt is like the older brother, teaching and leading Jeff, the younger. Unfortunately, the target alloparents did not stay around long. To the team's dismay, the two young cranes did not fly off to roost at night in the much safer nearby wetlands, but instead spent nights in the wide open fields at their Adams County release site. For weeks, they barely flew a few hundred yards. They mostly ignored the adults despite sharing the same area. Finally, On Nov. 15, adults #24-09 and #42-09 dropped by to visit the two PR colts for the first time in weeks (see photo by Colleen)—just as the weather turned snowy and windy. This time the adults got the colts to roost in water (see photo by Colleen), and then the colts barely left the wetland! Adults #24- and 42-09 tried their best to lead them away, but the colts stubbornly landed in their familiar cornfield when the adults took off and kept going south the morning of Nov. 20. The colts showed more interest in wandering. They had been surrounded by a flock of about 50 Sandhill Cranes since Nov. 21 (see photo by Colleen). As of Dec. 4, PR #29-16, with PR 39-16, was still happily foraging in Adams County, WI (and not chasing the Sandhills as often). He finally began migration on December 7 along with buddy PR 39-16 and many Sandhill Cranes heading south. They were in Kendall County, IL late that evening. By Dec. 13 they were in Dyer County, TN, where they remained until migrating north in early to mid April. The two buddies were reported before April 22 in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. If #29 remained with his buddy #39, in May they wandered and 39's signal was last reported in Ward County, North Dakota!

 

PR Crane #30-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at the captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 23 at White River Marsh in Green Lake Co, near two pairs of adults. On October 7, PR #30-16 appeared to be bonding with adult male Crane #4-12 and female Crane #3-14 when the three of them flew off into White River Marsh and roosted together. Time passed and PR #30-16 and his new alloparents stayed together. Observer Joe Duff said, "So far, this association seems to be the only one working as it should." Colt PR #30-16 was the only 2016 colt without a remote tracking device (he has a VHF transmitter), but also the only one to actually be spending consistent time with adult alloparents. On Nov. 6, young PR #30-16 left and took a flight with the other resident adult crane pair (male 4-13, who always showed a lot of interest in the young crane, and his mate 8-14) in White River Marsh (see photo by Doug Pellerin), but the youngster soon left them to roost with his alloparents. The new family frequently used a single field from just after sunrise to dusk, still in White River Marsh, and #30-16 grew nearly as big as the adults (see photo by Doug Pellerin). Led by alloparents #4-12 and #3-14, the young colt began his first southward migration on December 7. By Dec. 13 the team confirmed that the family was in Floyd County, GA. They stayed together and later moved to Seminole County, GA. By March 1 the family was in Miller County, GA and next moved to Kentucky. The family completed spring migration back to White River Marsh on March 21. They have been spotted deep in the marsh, the adults close together and the juvenile #30 (see photo by Doug Pellerin) a few hundred yards off. "They likely chased him away now that they are back home," noted Operation Migration's Joe Duff. "That’s a good sign that they may breed this year and produce their own offspring. They taught PR30-16 how to migrate and to be wild, and maybe he taught them how to be good parents." The juvenile was seen later, foraging in corn stubble with 2-year-old Whooping cranes #10-15 and & 11-15. He's doing the normal thing for a juvenile returned to the nesting grounds: hanging out and exploring with other juveniles. During all of April, he was hanging out in Green Lake County, WI. He was often seen foraging (see photo by Doug Pellerin) with male whooper #12-05.

 

PR Crane #31-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 22 in Marquette County after spending five days there in a temporary holding pen. Formed a bond with adult male #4-13 and female #7-14. On September 23rd, #38-16 was released there too. The adult pair foraged with both colts during the day. At night, the colts tried but still weren't yet flying quite well enough to follow the adults to their distant roost site. The possibility of adoption fell apart after adult male Crane #4-13 ended up stealing female #8-14, another male's mate. Meanwhile, older colt #31-16 daily urged the younger #38-16 to practice flying. Observers Heather and Jo-Anne reported that the two colts continued to do well, despite not having any adult Whooping Cranes with them. Each night they roosted on a great wetland a couple miles from their release field. During the day they flew quite a bit and foraged in nearby ag fields. The two young colts were still in Marquette County on Nov. 13, but after exploring, were found 10 miles to the south among a couple hundred Sandhill cranes. The pair of young cranes bopped around like they were in a pinball machine, giving Heather quite a chase to keep track of them. They had shared wetlands with as many as 1000 Sandhills, but were often seen alone during the day. They seemed oblivious to cars and once walked in the direction of a coyote, drawn by curiosity rather than put off by fear. In November they were active in Marquette County but didn’t really have a direction yet. The two buddies, PR #31 and #38-16, remained in Marquette County, WI until departing on migration December 8. (A GSM email from #38-16’s tracking device placed him directly over Chicago at 1:50 pm that day.) Since Dec. 10 the two were in good habitat in Crittenden County, KY. On January 7, 2017, they ventured into northwest Arkansas for the rest of the winter. Male #31-16 stayed after his buddy #38-16 was killed by a car around March 9. In mid April, #31-16 left Arkansas and was reported in Stephenson County IL, where he remains at this writing.

 

PR Crane #32-16
Female

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released in Outagamie County near Crane #10-15 and Crane #11-15 on September 17. She associated with them but couldn't keep up to fly with them to roost her first two nights of freedom. She was found dead September 19 in Outagamie County, WI, likely killed by a coyote seen earlier in the area.

 

PR Crane #33-16
Female

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 24 with PR #37-16 (M) in Juneau Co near adult Crane #12-11 and Crane #5-11. She was still with the adults as of Oct. 18, but just two days later, PR #33-16 appeared to have started southward migration—alone! She was the first of the Class of 2016 to migrate. On Oct. 20 she flew a distance of about 120 miles across the Iowa border to a location south of Dubuque, Iowa. She remained in Jackson County, Iowa, until continuing to Miegs County, Tennessee and finally Citrus Co, FL in December. She remains in Citrus County, Florida, where she is recently with two Florida whoopers. In mid April, #33-16 was in Carroll County, Illinois. By the end of the April she was in Dane Co, WI!

 

PR Crane #34-16
Female

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 23 with PR #29-16 (M) and PR #39-16 (M) in Adams County near adult Crane #24-09 and Crane #42-09. She became ill around October 5 and, unable to fly to escape, was killed by a predator on Oct. 7th.

 

PR Crane #37-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 24 with PR #33-16 (M) in Juneau CO near adult pair Crane #12-11 and Crane #5-11. Both young cranes stayed with the adults but on Oct. 17 the remains of PR#37-16 were discovered in the woods near the Juneau County release site. A necropsy is being performed to determine cause of death.

 

PR Crane #38-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 23rd in Marquette County where PR #31-16 had also been released. Observers Heather and Jo-Anne reported that older PR #31-16 daily urged the younger PR #38-16 to practice flying. The two colts continued to do well, despite not having an adult Whooping Cranes with them. Each night they roosted on a great wetland a couple miles from their release field. During the day they flew quite a bit and foraged in nearby ag fields. The two young colts were still in Marquette County on Nov. 13 but, after exploring, were found 10 miles to the south among a couple hundred Sandhill cranes. In recent weeks the pair of young cranes has been bopping around like they're in a pinball machine, giving Heather a chase to keep track of them. They were active but didn’t really have a direction yet. They had shared wetlands with as many as 1000 Sandhills, but were often seen alone during the day. They seemed oblivious to cars and once walked in the direction of a coyote, drawn by curiosity rather than put off by fear. They stayed in Marquette County, WI until departing on migration December 8. (A GSM email from #38-16’s tracking device placed him directly over Chicago at 1:50 pm that day.) They stayed in good habitat in Crittenden County, KY until January 7, 2017, when they ventured into Poinsett County, AR, for the next several weeks. Around March 9, #38-16's lack of fear around cars ended his life when he was struck and killed on a road in NE Arkansas.

PR Crane #39-16
Male

Raised by Whooping crane parents at captive breeding center in Maryland. Released September 24 with PR colt #29-16 (M) in Adams County near target alloparents: Crane #24-09 and Crane #42-09. The two PR colts first attempted to follow the adults to their roost spot on the evening of October 10 but the tired youngsters turned back after flying a mile and a half. As of Oct. 23 the two colts, called "Mutt" (the older #29-16) and "Jeff" (the younger #39-16) by their observers Colleen and Brooke, are still foraging the harvested fields. Jeff follows and Mutt leads, far more alert and wary than Jeff. Unfortunately, the target alloparents did not stay around long. To the team's dismay, the two young cranes did not fly off to roost at night in the much safer nearby wetlands, but instead spent nights in the wide open fields at their Adams County release site. For weeks, they barely flew a few hundred yards. They mostly ignored the adults despite sharing the same area. Finally, On Nov. 15, adults #24-09 and #42-09 dropped by to visit the two PR colts for the first time in weeks (see photo by Colleen)—just as the weather turned snowy and windy. This time the adults got the colts to roost in water (see photo by Colleen), and then the colts barely left the wetland! Adults #24- and 42-09 tried their best to lead them away, but the colts stubbornly landed in their familiar cornfield when the adults took off and kept going south the morning of Nov. 20. The colts did not go back to the wetland, but they showed more interest in wandering. They had been surrounded by a flock of about 50 Sandhill Cranes since Nov. 21 (see photo by Colleen). As of Dec. 4, PR #39-16, with PR 29-16, was still happily foraging in Adams County, WI). He was gone on the morning of Dec. 7, off on migration with buddy #29-16 and many southbound Sandhill Cranes. They were in Kendall County, IL late that evening. By Dec. 13 they were in Dyer County, TN, where they remained until migrating north in early to mid April. The two buddies were reported before April 22 in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, and were still there as of May 1. Then #39 (and likely #29, his buddy) decided to wander—to Ward County, North Dakota!


PR Crane #69-16
Female

Raised by captive crane parents at Wisconsin's ICF and released in Jefferson County, WI near adult Crane #14-15 on Oct 7. Even though it is likely she saw Crane #14-15 and also two Sandhills, PR #69-16 didn't attempt to land near them. She did well, foraging and flying around enough to go from one field to another. She was in the fields on her own from Oct. 10. On October 25, signals from her tracking transmitter showed she had migrated as far as northern Indiana, following a pair of Sandhill Cranes to Jasper-Pulaski NWR. She was seen in Jasper County, Indiana on October 25 and then turned up at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in north Alabama on November 10, where she spent all of December associating with #1-11 and #59-13. at Wheeler NWR in Alabama. Come spring, she left Wheeler NWR, presumably with adults #1-11 and #59-13, for northwestern Indiana, and next showed up in Will County, Illinois. She continued moving around a lot, but kept heading north and reached Racine County, Wisconsin! She was then with 2-year-old #65-15, a DAR female who knows where "home" is. She pent all of April associating with female 65-15. These two moved around and even made a trip south to northwestern Indiana, then back to Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.

PR Crane #70-16
Male

Finally released in Marathon County, WI on November 16, 2016, after being held back in captivity to recover from an injured wing. After his exposure to humans during several captures for injections of antibiotics, the team is hoping he'll do okay in the release program. He was released near target pair #65-15 DAR and PR #27-14. He associated some with the adult whoopers and some with Sandhill Cranes. By Dec. 8, all the Class of 2016 but PR#70 were gone. The two adults he was released with were already at their winter homes. Most of the Sandhill Cranes were gone and no more Whooping Cranes remained to show him the way south. The weather turned snowy and cold (see photo). On December 12, he was captured, checked for health, driven to Wheeler NWR in Alabama. He was released early December 14 (see photo) by ICF's Hillary Thompson near PR #69-16, with whom he was familiar. He associated with #69-16 as well as adult Whooping Cranes on the refuge. He didn’t consistently spend time with the same adults, but has been seen with #18-11 and #14-15. He stayed at Wheeler NWR, but moved around more in April. He wasrecently reported in Hardin County, Tennessee. He has made a couple of short trips but at this writing is still spending most of his time in Hardin County.

 

PR Crane #71-16
Female

Raised by captive crane parents at Wisconsin's ICF. Released September 30 at White River Marsh in Green Lake Co, near two pairs of wild adults. Though young, she was a strong flyer from her first time airborne. She had only one encounter with her target adult pairs. Within a day or two, she left White River Marsh and headed southwest, stopping to roost in excellent habitat each evening. By Oct. 17 she was in Marquette County with Sandhills. The team hoped she would associate with Whooping cranes, but she didn't. Until Dec. 7 she was still in Marquette County, WI. That day, a GSM email from her remote tracking device placed her in Lake County, Indiana—off on her first migration! On Dec. 9 her GSM signals came from Muscatatuck NWR in Jackson County, IN, where thousands of migrating Sandhill Cranes stop. She remained there until starting to move northward to Jasper Co., Indiana on Feb. 21, 2017 (see map). Amazingly, she and year-old subadult female #2-15 both landed at the exact same field on their northward migration back to Wisconsin—and it was good news for the juvenile to be with a subadult whooper who has made the migration before. Juvenile #71-16 stopped in Jasper County, IN until March 22nd. She completed migration back to Wisconsin before April 1 and remains iin Grant County, WI.

 

Rearing and Migration Method Number of Cranes

Group 1: Aircraft Guided

  • Captive-born
  • Learn to migrate by following ultralight airplanes
  • None in 2016

Group 2: Direct Autumn Release

  • Captive-born and costume-reared
  • Learn to migrate by following alloparents (wild cranes that serve as adoptive parents) in program called "Direct Autumn Release (DAR)"
  • None in 2016

Group 3: Wild Born

  • Wild-hatched
  • Learn to migrate by following their parents

Group 4: Parent Reared

  • Captive-born
  • Raised by their own parents in a captive-breeding facility with minimal human contact, and no costumed handlers.
  • Learn to migrate by following alloparents (wild cranes that serve as adoptive parents)
  • 12 cranes in 2016
  • 7 males, 5 females

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