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

Crane # 505 (5-05)

Date Hatched

May 1 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

June 15

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:

G/W radio USFWS bands

6.4 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: Chicks #505, 506 and 507 were the first group of birds well-behaved enough to train together in their first weeks of ground school at Patuxent. Mark Nipper says, "They are funny little birds. Dominance in this group seems to change every day. They follow the trike pretty well for most of the time. Chick #505 doesn't cow down to 506 readily, even when #506 starts trouble. With these guys it isn't true fighting, but usually just bumping chests to see who is bigger."

Chick #505 was shipped to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on June 15 with the rest of cohort #1. By July 6, he and buddies #506 and #507 were trying hard to get airborne with the ultralight plane. He was doing short flights by July 9, but still walked or ran the rest of the runway. On August 1, Brooke flew in and all the birds came out of the pen in a shot. All six took off with the plane, but #505 soon came back. The other five birds flew for about 17 minutes. After the flight was over, the crane handlers got everyone but #505 back in the pen. They kept him out to get more training time. He flew on the wing for the length of the runway but peeled off quickly as pilot Brooke climbed and turned the trike (ultralight plane). Mark Nipper said, "#505 follows well and has a good attitude; it just needs some more time to develop." It was slow. On August 8th, when his cohort mates took off after the trike, #505 would not leave until scared off by the Swamp Monster! After a few minutes, #506 joined 505 and the two of them went back to the pen. After training the other four birds, and getting them back into the pen, pilots decided to try flying #505 and 506 again. This time it worked better. They flew over to a plot of flat land where the chicks were fed a small feast of smelt and grapes. They expected these treats as if they were royalty! Then the pilot led them in flight over Rynearson Pool 2, at which time #506 decided to go back to the pen. But 505 wanted to keep going, and he struggled to get closer to the wing. After a few minutes, #505 got the hang of it and he and the pilot flew on a tour of the refuge. On the way back to the pen, #505 suddenly went down and, to Richard's (the pilot's) amazement, landed next to an adult crane from an earlier ultralight flock. Worried, Richard made a quick turn and flew by the confused chick just as the adult attacked #505. But #505 flew up and got along the wing as if nothing had happened! He landed safely back at his pen. But after that, #505 started not wanting to come out of the pen. For several days, he seemed scared of Mark in his costume and terrified every time the the trike flew by the pen. But once coaxed out of the pen, #505 acts perfectly normal and flies wonderfully with the trike. "It beats me," said Mark. "We will just have to wait to see what happens tomorrow."

In mid August, #505 hurt his leg while playing with a goose feather. Pilot Joe Duff said, "I saw a goose feather on the grass runway and decided to get the birds playing with it. I picked it up with the puppet and let the wind have it. Sure enough, 505 got excited and ran and jumped over as if to pounce on it. It went bad as the bird came down and began hobbling and not putting weight on one leg." It scared the handlers, but luckily the bird improved greatly in just a few hours.

By mid-September, Cohort 1 was backsliding in progress a bit after the stress of health exams. Chick 505 causes the most worry, as he remains very timid. Some days he won't come out of the pen. The commotion seems to scare him. Sometimes he won't take off after the trike. Other times he returns to the runway before training is over, but he is getting better. He's not a strong flyer, but does follow well.

Chick #505 broke away when Cohort One was flying over to join Cohorts 2 and 3 for the first time on September 17. Joe had to swoop in to lead him over. It took Joe in the air and the swamp monsters on the ground to keep #505 on Joe's wing, and 505 kept wanting to land for most of the flight. But--GREAT news--#505 stayed with the flock for the whole flight the first time all 20 flew together a few days later!

First Migration South
: Chick #505 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration to see what happens.

Here is more news about Crane #505's first migration:

On day 1 he returned to the pen and had to be crated and taken to the first stopover. (Chicks 503, 506, 516 and 524 turned back too.)

On Day 2, #505 thrilled the pilots by flying the entire 27 miles with the ultralight! They have been worried how he'd do on migration. On Day 3 #505 didn't get out of the pen in time to take off with Richard's plane and the other 19 birds. He flew alone with Brooke's ultralight for another good travel day!

#505 has been difficult in the past, preferring to turn back rather than stay with the rest of the flock. On Oct. 26 (Day 13) Brooke concentrated all his efforts on #505 after the others had taken off. The bird kept turning back after a few miles. Only after 30 minutes of aerial drama did the bird finally follow Brooke's plane.  Brooke arrived after being airborne for 2 hours and 6 minutes and walked #505 to the pen. WAY TO GO!

#505 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 release pen.

The pilots and ultralights tried to move the birds on January 9. Crane #505 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 Turner, Crisp and Wilcox Counties 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.) They spent the summer wandering in and out of the core reintroduction area. Crane #505 (with #506) was last confirmed in Green County, WI on September 15.

Fall 2006: Began migration from Wisconsin on Nov. 19 with #506. Made it to SE Indiana that day. Found roosting near the Halpata Tastanaki pensite (last year's laover site on arrival) in Marion County, FL on Nov. 24! Then detected in flight in Citrus County with female 521 on Nov. 25. Cranes #505 and #506 were in Citrus County at the end of December.

Spring 2007: Began migrating on March 13 with #506. They were in Cumberland County, Tennessee, until March 17-24. They arrived on Necedah NWR on April 2.

Fall 2007: Left Wisconsin on migration on November 27 with #512. They migrated together at least as far as central Indiana on November 27. Crane #505 was found
without #512 at Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on December 1. He was next seen with with #415 in Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 2 and they stayed the winter.

April 30 nest check: eggshell fragments only

Richard Urbanek, ICF

Spring 2008: Crane #505, with female #415, began migration from Hiwassee WR in Meigs County, TN sometime between February 28 and March 2. They remained with migrating sandhills in Jackson County, Indiana, at least through March 18. The pair was back at Necedah NWR March 27. In April they were nesting, but by April 30 the nest had failed. The pair was seen foraging away from the nest area, and a nest check found only eggshell bits. Sara said, "It's not surprising; this pair just formed this winter and neither bird had previous nesting experience."

Fall 2008: Male #505 and mate #415 were still in Wisconsin in mid-November, due to 415's leg being injured form a fishing line entanglement. However, they successfully migrated south to Meigs County, Tennessee, for the winter.

Spring 2009: On March 8 male #505 and mate #415 left a migration stop in Jackson County, Indiana, where they'd been since March 5. They were the first whooper sightings reported for the spring 2009 migration. The pair was next reported in White County, Indiana, on March 12 and 13. By April 2 they were already observed incubating on a nest on their usual territory in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR! (Nest later failed before eggs coud hatch.)

Fall 2009: Pair #505 and #415 disappeared from the Necedah NWR at the end of October, likely starting migration. They were found at Armstrong Bend, Meigs County, Tennessee, on December 13.

Spring 2010: Cranes #505 and #415 were reported in Lawrence County, Indiana, on February 26 - March 8. Both have nonfunctional transmitters. They were reported back on Necedah NWR on April 1 or 2 and already had an active nest by that time. That nest failed. The nest failed but a rescued egg was sent to Patuxent WRC in Maryland where it hatched on May 4 into female chick #3-10 in the Class of 2010!

Fall 2010: Migrated south with #415 to the pair's usual winter territory at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee.

Spring 2011: Departed on migration from HIwassee WR in Tennessee in mid February with #415 and young #21-10 (DAR). They were next reported Feb. 26 in Hardin County, Kentucky and in Jackson County, Indiana on March 1. The three made the final legs of their journey during the second week of March to arrive on Necedah NWR March 11. Pair #505 and #415 were sitting on a nest and incubating on April 10. Their nest failed April 29, and two fertile, viable eggs were collected. Both hatched in captivity and one egg became chick #9-11 in the Class of 2011. The other became a member of the new nonmigratory Louisiana flock.

Fall 2010: Migrated south with #415 to Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2012: Pair #505 (now #5-05) and mate #415 (now #15-04) had completed migration back to Necedah NWR by March 14. They had a nest by April 17, but it failed on April 21. They did not build a second nest.

Fall 2012: Male #5-05 and his mate migrated south together.

Spring 2013: Male #5-05 (aka #505) with his mate #15-04 (aka #415) arrived on the nesting grounds of Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 29, but the female was not seen after June 11. It appeared that she had died; all summer, a bird with a nonfunctional transmitter, assumed to be male #5-05, had been consistently observed on the pair's old territory but but with a new female: #23-10.

Fall 2013: By November, tracker Eva Syszkoski suspected that Crane #5-05 had died—but In January 2014 she found him in Meigs County, Tennessee! He had paired up with a new mate: female #32-09 DAR. In more good news, parent-reared juvenile #22-13 was hanging around with this new pair! This is a good sign that the chick will have "adoptive parents" to help it survive winter and return to Wisconsin in spring. Well done, #5-05!

Spring 2014: Pair #5-05 and #32-09 DAR began migration from near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee, on Februar 17 or 18, and their "adopted" youngster, 22-13 was still with them. They were reported in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 18 and had arrived in Washington County, Indiana, by February 21. The pair was confirmed back at the Necedah NWR on March 28. By mid April this pair had a nest, which was still active when checked April 30, but they abandoned the nest in May.

Fall 2014: Left Necedah on October 29 and then left Rock County, WI on migration with #32-09 DAR around mid November. They wintered at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2015: Male #5-05 and mate #32-09 (DAR) were observed back on territory in Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey. The pair's second nest produced chick W15-15 on June second, shown here on June 8, but the chick did not survive the month. Male #5-05 also died later in the season. His remains were found September 2, with death likely due to predation.

W15-15 on June 8, 2015Photo Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR pilot

Last updated: 10/1/15


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