Meet the New 2005 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2005 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 501

Date Hatched

April 20 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

June 15

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:

G/W radio USFWS bands
5.5 Kg

Right Leg:

  • 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: Scroll Down for Most Current

Migration Training: She missed a few days of training in the first weeks of her life due slight health problem, but she quickly recovered. She is dominant over 502, who is a very scared bird in general. On May 12, #501 was a bit of a hassle during training. During circle pen training, the pilot/trainer stops occasionally to give treats to the birds in the little inner-circle of sand. After each of these brief stops, 501 chased after 502 as she came running after Mark Nipper (in costume in the trike). Mark wasn't sure if 502 was following him and the trike, or just running away from 501--but it worked out well. So far 501 doesn't have the "hate" (though she is getting close), and just seems to be asserting her dominance. She swallowed a puppet string.

She was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. On the chicks' first day of training at Necedah, #501 was curious enough to wander off after a scared #502 when she headed into the marsh. On July 2, #501, 502 and 503 got airborne. July 9 the three oldest are flying beautifully, crossing entire lengths of the runway. July 13 the three flew with the trike beyond the end of the runway and even landed again with the trike---real progress!

Cohort 1 was doing great until about mid-September, when they went through a bit of regression after the stress of health exams. On September 9, all the birds except one tried to leave the pilot at some point during the training flight. The pilots hope the chicks will be excited to follow the trike again soon.

This picky little girl has always been trouble when it comes to taking her vitamins and medicines. She will not jest eat anything; she has to wash her food off first. She follows well enough and is a good flyer. She can be a little feisty at times.

First Migration South
: Chick #501 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 14th, 2005. Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration to see what happens.

She did just great, and landed safely with the 19-bird flock on December 13 at the holding pen at Halpata Preserve. The cranes will be moved 26 miles to their final release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #501 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!

Spring 2006: Began first spring migration from the "Chass" pen site March 28 with all flock members except 520. This flock of 18 split at roost time on March 28, and fourteen juveniles (501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 512, 514, 519, 523, and 524) stayed together. They probably roosted near the confluence of 3 counties (Turner, Crisp and Wilcox) in Georgia. They didn't move the next day. On March 30 they resumed migration and roosted in Hamilton County, TN. The next roosting place was March 31 in Spence County, KY; April 1 in Jefferson County, IN; April 2 and 3 in DuPage County, IL; April 4 in McHenry County, IL. (past Chicago). They are determined to get back to Wisconsin! They flew two days in rain, and in stong headwinds on April 4. On April 5 they resumed migration, stopping in Sauk County, WI—just short of Necedah NWR! Tracker Richard Urbanek was monitoring them the morning of April 6 when they took off. They completed spring migration as they passed the SW corner of Necedah NWR just after noon. (They kept going! They landed, foraged, and roosted that night in nearby Trempealeau County, WI.)

Fall 2006: Female #501 began migration with #408 on November 3. They roosted that night in Boone County, Illinois. They were in Kankakee County, IL on November 11-12. They successfully migrated to Florida, where #501 and #408 remained in the subadult flock in Pasco County, FL.

Spring 2007: Began migration March 19 (with #408 and #514). They arrived together at Necedah NWR on March 29. Her nonfunctional transmitter was replaced on August 30, 2007.

Fall 2007: Crane #501 and male #310 left Necedah NWR on migration November 22 and made it to Jasper-Pulaski wildlife area in Indiana that day. They continued
into Kentucky on 23 November 23. The next day they migrated through northern Georgia. They were found back on their old territory in Colleton County, South Carolina, on November 30.

Spring 2008: Confirmed back at Necedah NWR March 29 with mate #310. Last summer the pair built a nest so hopes were high for nesting again. But no sooner had they settled on their territory than #27-06 took over and drove off #310's mate. That didn't last long, and #501 was next seen with male #105! Will she mate and lay eggs this summer???

Fall 2008: Left Necedah NWR Nov. 20 with #105. The pair arrived together at Hernando County, Florida by December 27. Both had nonfunctional transmitters and could not be tracked. The pair was observed at the Chassahowitzka NWR pensite January18. Next they appeared at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park January 20, where two captive Whooping cranes live.They were captured and transferred to the Marion County Halpata-Tastanaki Preserve pen site. Their old transmitter batteries were replaced on January 21, 2009. The pair were then crated, transported, and released in Alachua County, FL on January 22. They returned to Hernando County January 30 only to reappear at the Chass pensite the following day — and found the Class of 2008 had arrived! The next morning, February 1, they returned to the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park and were again captured and transported to the Halpata pensite. This time they were taken to Meigs County, TN where they were released on February 4.

Spring 2009: 501, 105, 506, and DAR 37-07 were confirmed by radio signal near Armstrong Bend, TN on March 8. Female #501 was confirmed back at Necedah (with her mate #105) by the end of March or beginning of April. The pair began incubating on their nest April 21, but the nest failed soon after.

Fall 2009: The pair #501 and #105 stayed together over the summer but the pair bond briefly ended after September 26. Crane #316 was observed in courtship display directed toward #501 on September 28, and these two remained together until October 24. Surprise: #501 was back with her previous mate, #105, two days later! Crane #501 and her old mate #105 began migration Nov. 26 and were found at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee, on November 29. The pair stayed six weeks. In early February they landed back at their first Florida home, the pen site at Chassahowitzka, where they stayed!

"She has THE most incredibly beautiful head I have ever seen on a Whooping crane. This picture allows you to see that the black facial markings are actually red patches of skin that are sprinkled with tiny black hair-like feathers."
- Eva Szyszkoski, ICF
Crane pair #105 and #501 unison calling in Florida. Usison calling strengthens pair bonds but also asserts dominance and threatens other cranes (or here, the costumes). The cranes are saying:'This is my area. You better scram." - Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Spring 2010: Adult pair #105 and #501 and the nine remaining chicks at Chass were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness on March 13. Eva said, "We are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier then they would otherwise. We would expect#105 and #501 to be leaving at any time, as they will want to get back to Necedah NWR to establish their territory on the refuge for nesting season.

On March 19 the carcass of adult female #501 was found south of the pen site on Chassahowitzka NWR in Citrus County, Florida. On the previous night, she had been killed by a bobcat on a tidal mudflat. She and her mate #105 had roosted during the night with 9 2009 juveniles on the partially flooded flat. Her death reduces the number of pairs that have produced eggs in the new flock from 11 to 10. The carcass was transferred to Dr. Marilyn Spalding, University of Florida, for necropsy.


Last updated: 3/21/10

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