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

Crane # 212 (12-02)

Date Hatched

May 15 , 2002



Pre-migratory Weight: 5.8 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: At first he would venture into the marsh but later became a good follower. Little #212 was always ready to fight anything in his way.


Fall 2002: Successfully migrated south with ultralights and Class of 2002 crane chicks.

211 and 212 in September 2003

Spring 2003: Left Florida on first journey north April 1, 2003 with 14 other whoopers and returned successfully to Wisconsin April 13. Spent the summer about 15 miles from Necedah NWR with flock mates #217, 202, 211, 213 and 216. Formed a pair bond with #211 and they were often seen back at Necedah NWR in late summer.

Fall 2003: Began migration on Nov. 13 with six flock mates and #201 from the 2001 flock. This group of eight arrived at their old Florida pen site on November 21, 2003. During their entire journey south, the group stayed together and was never seen migrating with sandhill cranes. This group moved to Pasco County shortly after arriving in Florida.

Spring 2004: On March 18, 2004, #212 departed from the Pasco County winter location with Cranes 211 and 209 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 likely arrived on March 27, 2004.

Fall 2004: #212 remained at or near the Necedah NWR (along with #211 and 217) until Dec. 11. Arrived at the Florida pen site December 15—flying 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 16th they stayed at the pen all day and night. On December 17 these 3 moved 1 mile west of the enclosure but visited the pen often. The trio of 212, 211 and 217 moved on Dec. 26 to the Pasco County site, which 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, and #212 chased her to her final location.

Spring 2005: Cranes 212, 205, 211 and 217 departed Pasco County, FL between March 10 and 12. Reported on March 13 in Blount County Tennessee. Confirmed back at Necedah NWR in WI by March 29. Remained in the area all summer.

Fall 2005: Began migration November 17 with #102. They later joined whoopers #203 and #317 and #301 and #311 in flight. They roosted on a pond in Will County, Illinois. The group migrated Nov. 18 to near Indianapolis, Indiana. He and #102 arrived on a cattle ranch in Pasco County, Florida on December 22. The two hung out with #105, #204, #208, #205 and #313, particularly on roost at night. They were often with or near large groups of migratory sandhill cranes.

Spring 2006: Crane #212 (together with #208 and #102) began migration from a ranch in Pasco County, Florida on February 28. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana, from March 7-12. They arrived at their Wisconsin summer home March 18 or 19. These two were thought a possible new breeding pair, but then #102 left #212 on March 25 and was not located during the week. Crane #212 then intruded on the pair #316 and #312 to drive them apart in an attempt to pair with #312. Cranes 212 and 312 were no longer there on March 30, and not located later.

Fall 2006: Left on migration with #419 on Nov. 30. The two were not seen again until February 19, 2007 when they were seen on Okefenokee NWR in Georgia during an aerial survey. They were not with sandhills.

Spring 2007: Seen with #419 on February 19 on Okefenokee NWR in Georgia during an aerial survey. A pair observed in Wood County, Wisconsin on March 19 may be this pair. They were in Wisconsin for the summer nesting season but did not nest.

Fall 2007: Pair #212 and #419 left on migration November 22, 2007. Found on Hiwassee WR in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 1. They Were soon back on territory in Pasco County, Florida.

Tracking Intern Eva Szyszkoski took this photo of #212 and #419 in Florida.

Spring 2008: Began migration March 6 from Pasco County, Florida. On April 24 Sara Zimorski sent exciting news: "Both of these birds have non-functional transmitters but the nest location is between their two main use/territory areas, I detected no signals in the area, and there are really no other possible birds this could be. This was a particular good and important find because we hadn’t yet confirmed these two back in Wisconsin, even though we suspected they were back and likely nesting." Sara took this photo from the plane. See the crane sitting on the nest? 

Photo Sara Zimorski, ICF

May 5, 2008 nest check
Photo Richard Urbanek

The nest of 212 and 419 in Wood County failed in early May. A nest check found one undeveloped egg that was infertile. The pair had no further nesting activity this summer.

Fall 2008: Pair #212 and #419 cannot be tracked but were found on their previous wintering territory in Pasco County, Florida, on January 9. Trackers twice tried to capture this crane pair to replace their transmitters, but the birds escaped the Feb. 20 and March 4 capture attempts.

Spring 2009: Pair #212 and #419 departed on migration on March 4 when trackers were trying to capture them to replace their radio transmitters. However, they were found at the Chassahowiztka pen site that night and finally captured for transmitter replacements on the following morning. They resumed migration from the pen site on March 6. The pair was detected in northbound flight over Tennessee on March 8 and Kentucky on March 9. They were on course toward a favorite stopover in Greene County, Indiana, where they were from March 13 until they resumed migration on March 21. They had completed migration by the end of March. The pair was found April 9 on a nest, incubating! The nest failed when black flies tormented the parents off the nest, but by May 21 the pair was re-nesting about 50 meters west of their previous failed nest.

On June 12 they hatched a chick at their nest site in Wood County, Wisconsin! The chick that hatched was from a captive produced egg from ICF. The pair’s own eggs were both infertile. ICF's Sara Zimorski and Eva Szyszkoski checked the pair’s eggs July 11 to see if they were fertile. When it was discovered that neither egg would hatch, they switched the pair’s two eggs for one fertile egg from ICF. That egg is now chick W1-09! (W is for "wild," 1 is hatch order and 09 is the hatch year). The pair is extremely attentive to their new chick and appear to be naturals at parenting, reports ICF's Joan Garland.

Photo Jessica Thompson, ICF
Parents #212 and #419 with their chick on June 24, 2009. This is the first chick for this pair, and only the second time Whooping cranes have hatched in the wild in this reintroduction project. Unfortunately, the chick had disappeared after a month. Everyone was very sad that the summer of 2009 did not produce any surviving wild chicks..

Fall 2009: He and his mate #419 began migration on November 15, a day with clear skies and north winds to help push them south. Ten whoopers began migration the same day. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana, on November 20, where they remained at least until the end of November. They spent winter on their old territory in Pasco County, Florida.

Spring 2010: He and mate #419 began northward migration on March 8. They were reported in Greene County, Indiana, on March 11 and stayed until March 18-22. They were back on their Wisconsin territory in Wood County March 20-21! They already had a nest by April 5 but by April 14 the nest had failed. But cranes often try nesting again. Sure enough, By May 9-11, this pair had renested! They have a history of infertile eggs. On June 6, ICF's Sara Zimorski and Eva Szyszkoski replaced the pair's two infertile eggs with one fertile egg from a captive pair at Patuxent WRC in Maryland. With the trade complete, the egg hatched the next day. They became parents of a newly-hatched chick (W3-10) on June 7. Hooray!!!!! They were good parents and by the end of August their chick was seen in flight with them. The chick was captured, banded and released on Oct. 7, now ready for fall migration.

The family on August 30, 2010. W3-10 with Dad #212 after being banded.
The family on August 30, 2010. #212 with his newly banded chick W3-10 on Oct. 7, 2010.
Photos Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

W3-10 with her dad (#212) during her first winter in Florida.

#212 with the pair's chick W3-10 on the Florida wintering grounds.
Photo Eva Szyszkoski

Fall 2010: The Wood County family (#212, #419 and their chick W3-10) began migration on November 4! They flew all the way to the parents' regular stop in Greene County, Indiana! The family remained there until the morning of December 6. They were next found during an aerial survey on December 13 on the adults' wintering territory in Pasco County, Florida—migration complete! Well done, new parents!

On Feb. 9, 2011, ICF tracker Eva sent this photo of father and chick. "They will probably be migrating back north in the next couple weeks or so. Maybe they’ll turn up at the Chass pen site before they leave for good, as they have in the past! We’ll just have to wait and see."

Spring 2011: Pair #212 and #419 and their juvenile W3-10 began migration from Pasco County, FL sometime between Feb. 19 and 23. They were reported March 1 in Greene County, IN. The family stayed at least through March 5. On the evening of March 20 the family was reported in Kane County, IL. On March 23, tracker Jen sent word: "I just heard signals of the Wood County family (W3-10, and parents 212 and 419) over Baraboo, Wisconsin!" The family was back on on their Wood County territory March 25. Two days later they moved to another location where the adults left the chick before returning to their Wood County territory. (As of April 3rd, W3-10* remained in the area she was left by her parents.) The adults began incubating a new nest on April 13. The nest failed May 15, with 2 infertile eggs collected after overlong (32 days) incubation.

Fall 2011: Pair #212 and#419 wintered in Green County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Male #212 and mate #419 were detected in flight March 15 with several other Whooping cranes as they headed north over ICF in Baraboo, Wisconsin—close to Necedah NWR. They were found with a nest on April 2. They hatched a chick—the first wild-hatched chick of the eastern flock's 2012 season—on April 30! The chick (#W1-12) was observed by tracker Eva Szyszkoski of ICF. Chick W1-12 survived to fledge and migrate with the parents!

Cranes #212 and #$19 with their new chick, W1-12.
Photo: Eva Szyszkoski/ICF, with aerial support from Lighthawk

Fall 2012/Winter 2013: Male #212 and mate #419 were observed along with their youngster #W1-12 in Indiana on December 12 (photo below). Will they continue migration to their usual winter territory in Pascoe County, Florida, this year?

Crane family after migrating to Indiana: Parents #212 and #419 and chick W1-12

The pair with their chick did NOT continue migration to their usual winter territory in Pascoe County, Florida, but instead spent the winter in Indiana. The photo below was taken in February 2013 by Steve Smith. Female #419 at the left, chick #W1-12 in the middle, and male #212 on the right.

Crane family in February, 2013

Steve Smith photographed the family again March 12 at Goose Pond fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana. The cranes' leg bands identify them as #19-10 DAR, male #212 (12-02), female #419 (19-04) and this pair's now-subadult offspring W1-12.

Four Whooping Cranes in Indiana in March

Spring 2013: Male #212 and mate #419 completed spring migration back to Wood County, Wisconsin on April 2 along with their offspring from last summer, male sub-adult #W1-12. Will this pair raise another chick this summer? By mid April they were already sitting on a nest! The nest was observed by pilot Bev Paulan on an Alpirl 16 flight over crane territory, but the failed on May 5 and they did not re-nest. No chicks this summer for this pair.

Fall 2013: Pair 12-02 and 19-04 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, where they were reported on January 26.

Spring 2014: Pair 12-02/19-04 were confirmed back on their territory in Wood County, Wisconsin, on 28 March. 12-02 and 19-04. They were sitting on a nest in Wood County, WI when observed in mid April. On May 13 tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed that the pair hatched chick #W3-14! By July, their chick was the only survivor of the wild-hatched chicks of summer 2014.

The family: July 2014

Fall 2014: Male 12-02 was wildly upset when his chick, #W3-14, was captured by costumed handlers Sept. 8 for banding (photo below). His mate, #19-04, went missing during the summer and is presumed dead, so he alone will lead his youngster on its first migration this fall.

Male #12-02 is upset because his chick was just captured for banding: September 8, 2014
Photo: Molly Parren

Male #12-02 and his 5-month-old chick, #W3-14, began migration from his territory in Wood County, WI sometime between October 17th and 20th. The two were reported in Greene County, Indiana, by October 22, along with five other Whooping cranes from the eastern flock. He and his youngster left Greene County, Indiana, and moved south to Lawrence County, Alabama, the first week in January with #29-09, #19-10 DAR and #4-11. This group left Lawrence County, Alabama, and returned to Greene County, Indiana on February 7, 2015.

Spring 2015: Male #12-02 began migration from Green County, Indiana with female #4-11 on March 18-21, leaving his chick, W3-14, behind in the company of female #7-12. He was seen back on his Wisconsin territory during a March 25 aerial survey. He paired with female 4-11 and the two had an active nest by early May. No further news of any nesting success this spring.

Fall 2015: Male #12-02 was confirmed in Green County, Indiana with mate #4-11 by November 12 after migrating sometime within the two previous weeks. Several other whoopers from the eastern flock were also in Green County, IN.

Spring 2016: Male #12-02 and mate #4-11 were observed on their Wisconsin territory by March 30. They nested and were first seen with their little chick, W3-16, on May 3. Male #12-02 was found dead in early June. There was no sign of predation or injury; death was later determined to be due to a possible bacterial infection. His mate and chick were still doing well as of July 5, but It is a sad loss for the flock to lose this long-term survivor and good father.

Crane #2-12 on display after taxidermy

While male #2-12  will be missed as a valuable member of the eastern migratory population, he will go on to educate visitors at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. This photo in January 2017 shows Ranger Daphne Moland and Supv. Ranger Teresa Adams on the left of #2-12. To the bird's right is Shane Smith of Artistic Compositions Taxidermy, Bridgeport, AL. He performed a miracle of taxidermy on #2-12. You are invited to visit the Wheeler NWR Visitor Center and see for yourself.


Last updated: 01/19/2017


Back to "Meet the Flock 2002"

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