Key Timeline Events
Hatch Year 2004

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April 20 First chick for the 2004 ultralight flock hatches
June 3 Youngest chick of this training group hatches
June 6 Chicks 414, 415, 516, 417 & 418 first train as a group
June 16 Cohort 1 (7 oldest chicks) arrives at Necedah NWR, WI
June 18 Cohort 1 has first taxi training of "flight school." Perfect!
June 30 Cohort 2 chicks arrive at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin
July 4 Cohort 1 chicks in the hop-skip-flop stage of learning to fly
July 13 The 3 oldest chicks can fly the length of the runway in their first "ground effect flights."
July 15 Chick #401, 402, 403 and 405 are airborne!
  The older "white birds" of the Eastern flock appear on the training strip (their old territory!) to interfere with the new chicks' training
July 15 Cohort 3 ("The Little Girls") arrives at Necedah
August 10 #422 died, reducing this year's training group to 15
August 13 Cohort 1 logs a 7-minute training flight, and cohort 2 is up to 4-minute training flights!
August 13 "Swamp monster" (a noisy, scary costume) helps shape up behavior of #414 and #416
August 19 "Two Little Girls" (#419, 420) take first short little flight!
August 20 Cohort 1 can fly 15 minutes! Cranes #412, 415 and 417 had an amazing 30-minute flight.
Sept. 1 Cohort 2 (all but stubborn #418) flies for 48 minutes!
Sept. 3 Cohort 2 (middle) flies over to join with cohort 3 (youngest).
Sept. 6,7 Premigration health check ups for the 15 cranes. Each got a temporary radio transmitter for the southward migration. Each crane's transmitter is attached to a colored and numbered leg band.
Sept. 18 Attempted to fly the 7 oldest chicks to join the now-blended youngest and middle cohorts. It was successful with two birds but the 5 others will need to have another try. They were intimidated by the presence of two older adult "ultracranes" from previous years who had landed on the training strip and were acting dominant and threatening to the chicks as they tried to follow the trike.
Sept. 20 All remaining older birds moved to East Site (Swamp Monster helped).
They were penned in the south section of the pen. The already-blended cohort 2 and 3 birds were in the north section. Later that day--and for the third year in a row--the birds managed to open the gate latch and mix themselves together. Luckily and surprisingly, there was no aggression and no bloodshed.
Sept. 29 Highlight of the week was a 36-minute flight out of 419 and 420 at 500 feet altitude! (These females are the youngest chicks and the last to fledge.)
Oct. 10 The 4th ultralight-led migration departs Necedah NWR.
Nov. 7 Chick #418 became the first young whooper to be conditioned behind the ultralight aircraft but introduced among older birds to learn the migration route. He could not leave on the ultralight migration with his flockmates due to problems with late-growing feathers. He left today, flying with crane #307 from last year's ultralight cohort.
Dec. 12 Crane #406 got sick and died at migration stopover 20 (Gilchrist County, FL) due to health problems.
Dec. 12 Migration complete on day 64 when the birds were delivered to Chassahowitzka NWR in Florida. For stats, click here.


Dan drives the trike around the outside of the pen and "robo-crane" drops mealworms to encourage chick #402 to follow, safely INSIDE the pen. Photo HRay, WCEP
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