Meet the 2002 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2002 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 211 (#11-02)

Date Hatched

May 13 , 2002



Pre-migratory Weight: 6.4 kg


  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.


Personality and History (Scroll to bottom for current news)

Personality Characteristics: Friendly with the costume but very dominant with the other birds. Kind of a bully. Gets excited about things. The caretakers call him a "wacky whooper" because he will fight with gates, plants and rocks. Caretaker Mark thinks #211 hallucinates and acts as if he is killing snakes by stomping them.


Fall 2002: Successfully finished his first journey south behind ultralight plane.

211 and 212 in September 2003

Spring 2003: Left Florida on first journey north April 1, 2003 with 14 other whoopers. Returned successfully to Wisconsin April 13. Spent the summer about 15 miles from Necedah NWR with five flock mates. Bonded with #212 and they were often seen back at Necedah NWR in late summer.

Fall 2003: Began migration on Nov. 13 with six flock mates and #102. This group of eight arrived at their old pen site in Florida on November 21, 2003. During their entire journey south, the group stayed together and didn't even mix with sandhill cranes. This group left the old pen and moved to Pasco County shortly after arriving in Florida.

Spring 2004: On March 18, 2004, #211 departed from the Pasco County winter location with Cranes 209 and 212 and spent that night in southern Georgia. They roosted in McHenry County, IL on March 25 and 26. They were next seen at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge—HOME! They most likely arrived on March 27.

Fall 2004: Remained at or near the Necedah NWR until Dec. 11, along with #212 and 217. Arrived at the Florida pen site at 12:45 EST December 15. They flew the whole route in just 4-1/2 days! They roosted that night in the pool within the pen, near the top-netted enclosure containing the 13 newly-arrived 2004 chicks. On December 16 they stayed at the pen all day and night. The trio of #211, 212 and 217 spent time at or near the pen but moved on Dec. 26 to the Pasco County site that was used by #211 and #212 during winter 2003-04. Cranes #211, 212 and 217 sometimes returned to the pen site and were hostile to #214 when she also returned. They drove her away.

Spring 2005: Crane 211 (with 205, 217, and 212) departed Pasco County, FL between March 10 - 12. Confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 29. On the evening of 17 April, #217 (female) stayed on the nest the pair built in the pond on the east side of the dike, while #211 (male) roosted alone on the west side of the dike on their pond. This behavior could indicate that laying of an egg is imminent. Sure enough! They laid an egg in their nest, probably April 19. Unfortunately, the pair left the nest site and moved off the refuge by late afternoon, leaving the nest unattended during the night. The next morning the egg was gone, apparently taken by a raccoon or other predator. The pairremained together on or near their territory at Necedah NWR all summer. In the fall they foraged in a field along with the direct autumn release (DAR) chicks with only minor aggression. If other adults appeared around the DAR chicks' home, pair #217 and 211 usually drove them away.

Fall 2005: Began migration from Wisconsin shortly after sunrise on Nov. 24 with #217. They were not tracked. The pair reached their former pen site in Florida on December 1. They moved to a ranch in nearby Pasco County and sometimes associated with #205 and #313, as well as with small groups of sandhill cranes.

Spring 2006: Crane #211 (together with #217) began migration from a cattle ranch in Pasco County, Florida on February 28. They apparently arrived on their territory at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 28. They built a nest and were confirmed incubating on April 11! But on April 20 both these adults were seen foraging together, an indication that their nest had failed. Biologists examined the nest site on the morning of April 21. No egg remains were found in or near the nest. A crane egg shell, believed to be from this Whooping Crane nest, was found on the dike about 300 meters from the nest, probably carried there by an avian predator. See photos. Then—surprise! This pair nested again and began incubating on May 23 at the original nest site they used last year. This time they stayed with their eggs. On June 22, 2006, experts watching through binoculars saw that the adult cranes' behavior had changed. The eggs had hatched! Twin chicks were confirmed on June 23. What a celebration! The new Eastern flock has its first family! Follow their story in our First Family photo slide show.

Fall 2006: The First Family left on their first migration south on Nov. 19, the day that a record total of 28 whooping cranes began migration. The parents and their surviving female chick (called W601) made it that day to Indiana! On December 9, 2006 at 4:08 pm parents #211 and #217 and their surviving chick arrived at the Florida pen site. The new parents brought their chick to the same place THEIR parent, the ultralight plane, brought them in 2002. WELL DONE! The family later moved to a lake in a large housing development in Hernando County, FL (not a good idea). They left that location in after February 22.

#211 and #217 on their April 2007 nest (later abandoned)
Photo Richard Urbanek, ICF

Spring 2007: The First Family (Dad #211, Mom #217, and chick #W601) began migration from Florida on Feb. 23. No further confirmed reports were received until March 20 when the radio signals of 211 and 217 and their chick #W601 were confirmed back on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin! Their chick is the first wild-hatched chick in the eastern migratory population, and the first to complete a roundtrip migration by following her parents — a milestone for the reintroduction of this new flock! By March 26, the chick had separated from the parents (normal behavior). The adults built a new nest and began incubating eggs on April 3. The nest was later abandoned; they began building another nest around May 17, but they did not hatch eggs this year.

Fall 2007: Pair #211 and #217 left on migration November 22, 2007. Found in Vermillion County, Indiana, on November 24 and still there when trackers checked on December 13. They were gone when the area was checked on December 23. On January 3, 2008, ICF tracker Eva detected signals for #211 and #217, the First Family parents. Eva confirmed the birds had landed at the Chassahowitzka pen site by making a trip to the boat ramp where she could once again hear their signals coming from the direction of the pen site. They stayed the night at the pen site. Eva wondered where they'd go next. She monitored them. The next morning they took off at 11:30. At noon they landed on their former territory and found W601, their female offsping from 2006! The photo and caption tell what happened:

The First Family on the parents' Florida territory.
Juvenile W601 was on her parents' territory when they arrived on January 4, 2008. Eva watched the family reunion. All 3 whooping cranes were less than 1 meter apart then W1-06 started walking away. The parents caught up with her and the family then walked and stopped and foraged together. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will they chase the youngster away, which would be expected behavior? Trackers will continue to monitor these three birds closely to see how they interact. 
Photo Eva Szyszkoski, ICF Tracking Team

On Feb. 15, 2008, the two adults left their territory and flew to visit their old "Chass" pen where the Class of 2007 now lives. The adults landed in the pen and the chicks immediately ran and flapped to them, attacking intruders who dared enter their territory. The adults took the hint and flew a short distance away, with chicks on their tails. They were chased from the pen in a matter of minutes, flying to the west to land in a nearby creek. They got the message and didn't come back!

Spring 2008: On either February 16 or 17 the pair left their winter territory. They were not tracked, but First Parents #211 and #217 were confirmed at Necedah NWR on March 25. The pair began incubating on April 7. Hopes for chicks were dashed when they deserted their nest on May 6, with 2 fertile eggs, after a surge of warm weather. This is the second time the pair has abandoned a nest.
Pair #211, #217 in March

Photo Sara Zimorski, ICF
May 6, 2008: Abandoned nest with 2 fertile eggs
Photo Richard Urbanek, ICF

Fall 2008: Began migration from Necedah NWR on November 15 with mate #217. They were found in Cherokee County, Alabama, at the end of December and beginning of January.

Spring 2009: Began migration from Cherokee County, Alabama, before March 8 with mate 217. Reported in Vermillion County, Indiana during March 9-14. (The refuge datalogger detected the presence of one bird at Necedah NWR on March 16.)

Chick W2-09 and parent. Sadly, the chick disappeared at two weeks of age.
Photo WCEP

Both birds were confirmed there on March 19 and incubating on a nest April 7! Black flies that hatched in a heat wave tormented the nesting adults and he nest failed before the eggs could hatch. The pair built a second nest — and became the new flock's first second-time parents when their chick hatched in June! The behavior of the pair indicated that the chick hatched on June 14 or 15, but visual confirmation was difficult to obtain until June 18 due to dense vegetation. This chick is W2=09 (W for wild, 2 for second hatched in the year 09). HOORAY! This is the second time in over a century that a naturally produced Whooping crane has hatched in the wild in the Midwest, and both came from pair 211 &217!

Sadly, W2-09 disappeared at just two weeks of age. The chick was last visually confirmed at 1:00 p.m. on June 28. The parents seemed to be tending the chick the early evening of June 29, but the chick could not be seen due to marsh vegetation. The parents were first observed behaving as if no chick was present around noon on June 30, and the movements of the parents have confirmed the loss of the chick.

Pair #211 & 217 did a lot of flying between the pen site of the DAR chicks and the pen site of the ultralight chicks over the last weeks of summer and early fall.

Fall 2009: Pair #211 & 217 began migration from Necedah NWR with several other Whooping cranes on Nov. 26, migrating as a group before landing to roost at an undetermined location(s) in Illinois. On Nov. 28 the pair was at one of their previously used stopovers in Vermillion County, Indiana. His mate was shot to death sometime between that sighting and Dec. 1 when her carcass was discovered. Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents are investigating the incident. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serviceand other groups are offering a reward to the person or people who provide information leading to a conviction. Successful breeding pairs mate for life, and now male #211 is without his mate. Experts are hoping he will find another female that he wants as his mate. As of December 26, he was still in Vermillion County, Indiana, alone. What will he do? Stay tuned.

Spring 2010: Male #211 (hereafter known as 11-02) was obseved back home on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 16! The male of the First Family is alone; his mate, #217, was shot in Indiana in December. He was observed unison-calling with#46-07 DAR on April 1, but the female apparently rejoined her mate #402 (hereafter known as 2-04) on East Rynearson Pool on the following day. He later joined up with female #830 (hereafter known as #30-08) and the two claimed as their territory the area where the Direct Autumn Release chicks were set free to associate with older Whooping cranes who could lead them south.

Fall 2010: Adult pair #11-02 (a.k.a. #211) and #30=08 (a.k.a. #830) were found in Vermillion County, Indiana on Dec. 2. Hooray for the older crane pair who showed young #19-10 DAR (Pepper Jack) the way! They were foraging in snowy cornfields. The adult pair had claimed the DAR introduction site at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge as their territory during the summer, so the young Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chick called Pepper Jack had followed them around and knew them well. Will these three continue together from Indiana to warmer grounds farther south? yes! They were in Cherokee County, Alabama until at least January 26 but were gone when the location was checked on February 1, 2011. The pair and young #19-10 DAR were reported in Madison County, Alabama at least through February 14 along with cranes 37-09 DAR, 25-10 DAR and 27-10 DAR.

Spring 2011: Left Madison County, Alabama sometime between Feb. 18-22 in a group with his mate #30-08 (a.k.a. #830) and #19-10 (DAR) and cranes 37-09 DAR, 25-10 DAR and 27-10 DAR. They were reported in Crawford County, IL on March 8-10 and Mar. 14, and completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 21. Male 11-02 (a.k.a. #211) had 7 previous nests with another mate, but this year his new mate was female #30-08 (formerly #830). The pair built their first nest and began incubating on April 16. Their nest failed May 12 and they did not nest again.

Fall 2011: Migrated to Vermillion County, Indiana with mate #30-08 (a.k.a. #830).

Spring 2012: Male #11-02 returned March 7 to Necedah NWR for the summer nesting season, but he is without his mate, who died during the winter.

Winter 2012: No news.

Spring 2013: Male #11-02 returned March 23 to Necedah NWR for the summer nesting season, but still without a new mate. ICF tracker Eva reports, "11-02 is on the prowl and has stolen #26-07 (formerly 726) away from #4-08 (formerly #804)...but this happened last spring as well, and it isn't over until there is a nest!" Sure enough, before May 3 the new pair had built a nest together, but it failed in early May when a heavy black-fly outbreak occurred and tormented many of the crane pairs off their nests.

Fall 2013: Male #11-02 and mate #26-07 migrated to Vermillion County, Indiana.

Spring 2014: Back in Juneau County Wisconsin, male #11-02 and his mate #26-07 had an active nest by April 30. One chick seen with the parents on the May 29 survey flight but did not survive the summer.

Fall 2014: Male #11-02 and his mate #26-07 left on migration sometime between October 17-23 and stopped at their usual location in Vermillion County, Indiana, through at least 3 January; however (unlike last year) they apparently didn't want to remain through the colder weather and continued to Cherokee County, Alabama for the winter.

Spring 2015: Male #11-02 and his mate #26-07 were back in Juneau County Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey flight by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan.The pair's first nest failed on April 15 but they re-nested and had two more eggs. Unfortunately, his mate died and her remains were collected on her second nest on May7th. After the death of his mate, he was associating with juvenile female #20-14, one of the parent-reared (PR) chicks released near adult cranes in fall 2014.

Fall 2015:

Spring 2016: Male #11-02 and his mate #15-09 were reported back in Juneau County, Wisconsin, with a renest observed on pilot Bev Paulan's May 5th survey flight. They hatched chicks on May 27 and May 29. Chick W11-16 was likely predated on June 17; chick W12-16 was still with parents on their territory on July 5, but not seen on the July 15 survey. However, male (#11-02) was last seen on territory with his mate and chick. His carcass was recovered in August. The death of this 14-year-old male is a big loss to the flock.


Updated 9/7/16

Back to "Meet the Flock 2002"

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).