Spring 2017 News
Looking Back 2001-2015

Nesting Milestone!
April 24, 2017 by Jane Duden

Five yearling cranes of the Class of 2016 are back in Wisconsin. For the first time ever, a nest cam lets you watch a nesting pair of Whooping Cranes!

Nesting female #9-03 chases away a Sandhill Crane
Nesting Whooping Cranes are very territorial! Nesting #3-14 drives away a Sandhill.
By Doug Pellerin, April 2017

Where Are the Cranes Now?
On April 22, the eight juveniles in the Class of 2016 were here
  • two in Illinois
  • one in Tennessee
  • and five in Wisconsin! HOORAY!

Meanwhile, more than 20 Whooping Crane nests are underway so far. One of those nests is creating extra special attention and excitement.

First Nest at White River Marsh: A Happy Milestone
The Eastern Migratory Population achieved another milestone with the first nest in White River Marsh, discovered by pilot Bev Paulan on a recent aerial nesting survey.

The marsh is in Green Lake County, about 60 miles east of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. It's the first nest at the marsh since the aircraft-led chick training was moved here in 2011—safely out of territory of the black fly species that feed on birds, causing years of nest abandonments on Necedah NWR. Now, six years after the relocation, the flock has its first nest in White River Marsh!

Female #3-14 and male #4-12 (fondly nicknamed the "Royal Couple") are the flock's first pair to nest on White River Marsh. This a big deal worth celebrating because it comes after six years of waiting!

"We're thrilled to be able to stream the action live from a Whooping Crane nest for the first time ever," states Operation Migration's Heather Ray. You can join the scientists and experts keeping an eye on the nesting progress!

This crane pair is fairly young. The female is just three years old. The male is five. Whooping Cranes typically begin breeding at 5 years of age. This pair has been a bonded pair since the spring of 2015. They are the pair who successfully adopted PR chick #30-17 last fall, teaching him the migration route and returning with him this spring as natural crane families do. It seems they deserve their nickname of the Royal Couple!

Meanwhile, young male #30-16 has been hanging out with five-year-old male #5-12, fondly nicknamed Henry. "I’m pleased with this friendship," says Heather. "I think Henry could use a buddy." (He has been left by two girlfriends and now his good crane buddy #4-14 is gone, too.) Yearling #30-16 still has some of his tawny coloring as you can see in the photo.

More Egg News
At Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, some eggs in an incubator will soon become fluffy Whooper chicks. Over the summer they will grow into tall, gangly whooping crane colts for September release in Wisconsin. From that point on they will be on their own—hopefully adopted by Whooping Crane parents, just as #30-16 was last fall. Luckily, technology allows the experts to track the cranes remotely and from the comfort of their offices. More of these important tracking devices are needed, however, and Operation Migration's goal is to raise enough money to get five GSM remote tracking units for the young cranes soon to hatch. They've setup a fun, social campaign on GivingGrid to help accomplish this

We'll be back May 8 with more nesting news. We hope the remaining three juveniles in the Class of 2017 will be home by then, too!

See bio pages for details about each of the cranes.
Juvenile PR #30-16, by himself after spring migration

Site of Celebrated Nest
Bev Paulan

Whooping Crane Nest Cam

Nest Cam
Operation Migration

Juvenile PR #30-16, by himself after spring migration

Yearling #30-16
Doug Pellerin

Fundraising Campaign for Whooping Cranes