Photo: Operation Migration
Meet the New 2004 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2004 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 420

Date Hatched

June 3 , 2004



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

July 15, 2004

Permanent Leg Bands


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

Personality and History

Migration Training: The youngest. Introduced to the trike at 9 days. Received 6 hrs & 20 min. of aircraft conditioning while at Patuxent WRC. Small but very determined to follow the trike. The "2 little girls," 419 and 420, got airborne for their first short flight August 19--long after the oldest chicks. By the end of September the "two little girls" could fly 36 minutes at 500 feet altitude! Mark says "#420 is the cutest little sandhill-sized 'pigpen' of a whooper you could ever ask for. Very tiny, and sometimes walks around all hunkered down, making her even smaller. But when she wants to, she struts her stuff with her buddy, #419." See why Mark calls her a little dirtball. Likes to eat field mice and is the first to nab any that happen to be in the fields as soon as the birds land at a new area.

First Migration South
:The two little girls did well, and when they tired and dropped back, another ultralight swooped in to fly with them. They often had their own plane and got help from the currents off the ultralight's wing. Considered a very good bird, along with 414 and 419 in her "trio."

Spring 2005: Left on first journey north with the group of 11 on 25 March, 2005 after 103 days on wintering grounds. After flying through Georgia and veering as far east as South Carolina, the flock corrected their course, stopping in Indiana before reaching Wisconsin. Still together, the group of 11 entered Wisconsin the evening of April 4. They continued migration on April 5 but it was cloudy so they landed in Fond du Lac County. On April 6 the group  of 11 separated. Chick #420 stayed with 402, 403, 415, 416, 417 and 419 in Dane County, WI and they all finished their migration to Necedah NWR on May 3. During the summer she was often with sandhill cranes and #419 in farmlands of Columbia County, WI. and a marsh with sandhill cranes in Marquette County, WI.

Fall 2005: Left Wisconsin on its first unaided fall migration on November 9, together with #419. They made it to Indiana the first day. They reached Madison County, Florida on Nov. 15--the FIRST of their cohort to reach Florida without the ultralight to lead them! They stayed the winter in Madison County, FL.      

Spring 2006: Began migration with #419 on March 28. PTT readings for that night were from Butts County, Georgia and on March 29 in Tennessee. By March 31, they had arrived at the same spot where #319 and #520 were located, and stayed at least through April 2. The two completed migration to Central Wisconsin on
April 8. By April 10 the two birds had separated. PTT readings indicated that #420 was in Clark County, WI. According to PTT readings, she was in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, until April 27. She then flew to Aitkin and Mille Lacs Counties,
Minnesota. PTT readings indicated that she returned to Chippewa County, Wisconsin,
on May 2. She later joined sandhill cranes and remained with them on a lake in Rusk County, WI.

Fall 2006: #420 began migration with sandhill cranes on November 9. She passed through Central Wisconsin and then diverted eastward to roost that night in Dodge County. She resumed migration and roosted on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA in Indiana on November 11-12. Stayed in Indiana until the first week in February, 2007 and moved on when the coldest arctic air mass of the season chilled the Midwest. She was next observed with a few thousand sandhill cranes in Jackson County, Indiana on Feb. 23.

Spring 2007: She was still in Jackson County, Indiana with sandhill cranes through March 6. Her signal was detected at Wisconsin's Necedah NWR by the refuge datalogger on March 18, but no other reports or sightings after that. Trackers will soon fly over the area to see if they can locate her.

Fall 2007: Female #420 was found with sandhill cranes in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, during a check on September 26, 2007, but she wasn't there at the last check on October 14. She was next confirmed on Jasper-Pulaski FWA in Indiana on or by November 22. She left the following day and arrived on Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on November 24. She is still there, and guess who was with her in early December? Young DAR 46-07! This direct-release chick needs someone to show the way to Florida after getting lost, captured and brought to Hiwassee by the trackers. Will #420 lead the 5-month-old chick to a good winter home?

Crane #420 with DAR 46-07 at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge stopover in Tennessee. Both cranes stayed in the area all winter.
Photo Richard Urbanek

Spring 2008: Female #420 male #105 were reported in a flock of sandhills in Warren County, Kentucky, from March 6 until they resumed migration on March 8. They were detected March 30 on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin, but trackers reported on April 8 that the pair bond between 105 and 420 established during the winter had dissolved. They separated during or at the end of migration. She was reported with sandhill cranes in Clark County, at the usual summering location of female #528 on March 30, but was gone by the next day.

Fall 2008: Crane #420 was confirmed in a large flock of staging Sandhill cranes in Rusk County, WI on Oct. 22. Reports of a Whooping crane at the same location on Oct. 29 and Nov. 3 and 8 were probably her. She migrated south and was last confirmed in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 19.

Spring 2009: No reports for spring migration from her wintering place in Tennessee. Her transmitter does not work so she cannot be tracked. Then in April 2009, her remains were discovered in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. More details when they come.

Last updated: 4/17/09

Back to "Meet the Flock 2004"

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