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

Crane # 509 (9-05)

Date Hatched

May 10 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

July 6, 2005

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:

G/W radio USFWS bands

6.2 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: Learned quickly how to eat food and drink water with the puppet's example. #509 and 510 have been training and walking buddies ever since they were tiny chicks. On June 3 they both started their circle pen training. Chick #509 shipped to Wisconsin on July 6 with #510 and all the rest of Cohort 2. On the first day of training after arrival at Necedah NWR, #509 needed extra coaxing to come out of the pen. Trainer Robert Doyle fed #509 smelt (smelly little fish) to get him to follow the trike along the grass training strip. Then, after it finally rained and filled the pond, almost nothing would get #509 out of the wet part of the chicks' pen. Arm flapping, yummy treats, battery-powered vocalizers--all these tricks had to be used to coax #509 to come out of the wet pent for training. Sometimes other birds, especially his buddy #510, followed his bad example.

By July 30, #509 was coming out of the wet pen and onto the runway without any hassles. But his new bad-habit-of-the-week was to fly off the runway and into the non-enclosed marsh area to forage (probe for food). One day #509 and #508 (the group's two best flyers at this time) took off and easily cleared the short fence bordering the runway. They landed about 50 yards away in a fun, marshy area, ignoring the costumed crane handlers AND the ultralight planes (trikes). Shortly after, chicks #510, #511, and #512 flew off to join the wayward chicks in the marsh! As trainer John Thomton says, #509 has always been a very independent bird. "He's a little bit of an outsider in the group, but whenever anyone challenges him, he's quick to put the challenger in his place. He's also good at ignoring the handlers when he wants. I'm always wondering what 509 will do tomorrow!"

Things went well until August 28, when Cohort 2 moved in with Cohort 3 chicks at the east site. When the Cohort 2 birds (the better flyers) were let out to fly with the ultralight, #509 spent more time on the grass runway than following the ultralight.

On September 9, Cohort 2 had a great day. All 8 birds took off from the runway on the first try and never looked back. They flew for about 15 minutes, and stayed with the pilot for the entire flight! What a relief after several days of dropping out and missing flying time, most likely from the stress of the health exams.
This is an independent bird, but much improved from a month ago. He flies well, but can be slow to return to the pen after training.
He can be aggressive, and is mid-level in dominance.

First Migration South
: Chick #509 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 14th, 2005. Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration and you'll see that #509 must have been a real trooper because he never made his own headlines. He landed safely with the flock at the temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve in Marion County, FL on December 13. The cranes will be moved to their final release pen in mid-January after all the older cranes have dispersed from the pen site.

On January 10, Crane #509 made it to the final pen site at Chassahowitzka NWR on day 2 of the pilots' attempts to move the flock. The birds slowly became familiar with the idea of again following the ultralight after a month's vacation. Richard and Brooke managed to get #509 and 5 other birds far enough from the pen that they fell into line and followed the final 26 miles. 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.) He wandered a lot during the summer and was reportedwith sandhills in Barron County, on September 5 after not being seen anywhere since June 18 in Fayette County, Iowa..

Fall 2006: He was seen in Clark County, WI on 22 October. It's uncertain when he left Wisconsin, but #509 was last reported migrating with six Sandhill cranes in Georgia on Oct 28. Arrived in Lake County, Florida on Nov. 22, HOME.

Spring 2007: Left Lake County, Florida between April 21 and April 29 and arrived home in Wisconsin on May 4! He summered on Pool 13 at Necedah NWR last year. Then on October 24 he moved to Rock County WI with #505 and 512.

Fall 2007: Left Rock County, Wisconsin on migration on November 23, separate from the other two birds he'd been with. Arrived on Hiwassee WR in Tennessee by November 24. Departed Hiwassee sometime between November 25 and 28. Last recorded with wintering sandhills in Lake County, Florida, on Jan. 9, 2008.

Spring 2008: Arrived back in Wisconsin April 15!

Fall 2008: He was reported with #514 and sandhill cranes in Jackson County, Alabama, on December 16. He completed migration to Florida, where he was found with sandhill cranes in Lake County during an aerial flight on February 6, 2009.

Still-Capture Photo Operation Migration Crane Cam

Spring/Summer 2009: Began migration from Lake County, Florida, on March 18. By March 25 he had been confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. During summer training of the Class of 2009 chicks, #509 was a frequent visitor to the grass training strip. He liked to interrupt the training sessions. One day pilot Chris tried to get him to fly off by acting like a crane: walking tall and slow with his puppet head held high in an aggressive pose, but to no avail. Chis said, "I uselessly chased him around the trike, some of the chicks joining in the chase. I hopped back in the trike, fired up the engine and taxied back to the west, 9 chicks and one adult in tow. Once we stopped at the end of the runway, the adult pair that frequents this site came out of the marsh and quickly accomplished what I had been unable to do — chase off 509. Their unison calls and ability to fly convinced him that he was trespassing, and after a brief chase by one of the adults, he went flying off but will likely be back to bother us another day." Sure enough, #509 camps out behind the pen where the youngest chicks live. One day in September when the ultralight led the youngest chicks on a flight, he found himself alone and called and cried mournfully. Was he sad to be left all alone? More. On Sep. 30, he interfered when all 21 of the Class of 2009 were together for socializing for the first time as a group, and some of the chicks were aggressive towards #509.

Fall 2009: Crane #509 was still on Necedah NWR Nov. 30, and closely associating with DAR chick 42-09. Will he lead her on her first migration?

Nov. 26, 2009: Adult Whooping Crane #509 with DAR 42-09 and Sandhill Cranes
Photo Richard Urbanek, USFWS

Fall 2009: Adult #509 was hanging closely with DAR #42-09 starting on November 11. Would he be her migration leader? Yes! These two birds left Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on December 6 and moved down to Sauk County, Wisconsin. By December 8 they were no longer at this location. Trackers guessed they had started migration but the two birds were never detected or reported during their migration.Then came good news on January 4, 2010. The Florida landowner on whose property #509 spent last winter called ICF trackers to report the arrival of two cranes, one browner and one white. Tracker Sara confirmed it was #509 returning to his previous wintering area in Lake County, FL—with chick #42-09! Male 509 was the leader for the first DAR chick in the Class of 2009 to complete her first journey south!

Spring 2010: Crane #509, now renamed #9-05, and 42-09 DAR began spring migration on March 6 or 7. Female 42-09 (DAR) was reported back on Necedah NWR by March 22 and #9-05 (formerly #509) by March 24, but both were likely together on March 22. They had separated by April 1 and #9-05 (#509) paired with adult female #818. This was good news, but 509/#9-05 was once again left alone when his new mate #818 was killed by a predator on Necedah NWR sometime between April 21 and April 25, 2010. Will he find another mate? We hope so! He remained in the same area.

Crane #-09 and the chicks napping on the grass
As usual, male #9-05 (509) was often on the grass training strip in summer, hanging out with the new class of chicks as they trained with the pilots and ultralight planes. He even followed the ultralight a few times, and "herded" a wayward chick back to the training session! He napped with the chicks on the runway one day because it was the only dry place to lie down during a very soggy, rainy week. He has taken his usual watchful and caring role with the chicks.

Female #13-03 (#313) was observed with 9-05 (#509) on his territory several times during October.

Fall 2010: Male #9-05 (formerly #509) apparently began migration from Necedah NWR on November 23. He was next found on his usual wintering territory in Lake County, Florida during an aerial survey on December 13.

Spring 2011: He began migration on March 8. Completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 26. He apparently won the heart of #13-03 (formerly #313); by April 12 the new pair was incubating on a nest! They hatched one chick (W3-11) on May 10. The chick survived the May 22 tornado in the nesting territory but disappeared on June 10.

Fall 2011: Male #9-05 (#509) and his mate #13-03 (313) began fall migration between November 23-27. Their wintering area was unknown to trackers.

Spring 2012: Male #9-05 (#509) and his mate #13-03 were detected as they arrived back at Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete! They were found with a nest on April 6 but they later abandoned it. The pair built a second nest and started incubating Aprill 18. This nest was successful! Chick #W8-12 was confirmed on the May 21 tracking flight. Chick W8-12 still survives as of Nov., 2012.

Fall 2012: He migrated south with his mate and their chick. The family was believed to be in Indiana as of Dec. 21, per tracker Eva Szyszki.

Spring 2013: On March 30 the family of #9-05, with his mate #13-03 and the chick #W8-12 from last summer, completed their migration north. HOORAY! The pair was already sitting on a new nest by mid April. They abandoned the nest—but their two rescued eggs were incubated at ICF, and chicks #1-13 and #4-13 hatched to become part of the ultralight-led cohort for the Class of 2013.

Spring 2014: Pair 13-03 and 9-05 completed migration back to the Necedah NWR on 26 March. The pair nested in Juneau County and were first seen incubating on April 9. They hatched the season's FIRST chick on May 8 and the second soon after! The first chick was assigned the number W1-14: “W” for a wild chick, 1 for the first hatch of the year, and 14 for the year. The second chick is W2-14. Neither chick survived the summer. However, the parents "adopted" one of the chicks from the parent-reared release program when young female #20-14 was set free near them in fall before migration.

Crane parents #5-09 and #13-03 with their new chicks: W1-14 and #2-14
Photo: Bevery Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2014: Pair #9-05 and #13-03 and their adopted chick, parent-reared #20-14 (adopted in fall when the young female was released on the refuge) migrated together to Greene County, Indiana, departing Necedah on Oct. 31. Well done! These three birds were seen associating with pair #8-04 and #19-05 in December at their Indiana location. Young #20-14 spent winter with her new parents in Jackson County, Alabama.

Spring 2015: Male #9-05 and mate #13-03 began migration from Jackson County, Alabama, on March 7-8 with their adopted parent-reared chick #20-14, and the three completed migration to Wisconsin by March 19. The adult pair nested and on May 3 they hatched the first chick of the season, but the chick soon disappeared.

Fall 2015: Pair #9-05 and #13-03 were confirmed in Greene County, Indiana by Nov. 13, having departed Necedah NWR sometime in the previous two weeks. Several other whoopers from the eastern flock were also in Geene County on that date.

Spring 2016: Male #9-05 and mate #13-03 were back at Necedah NWR and already tending a nest with two eggs by April 7! They were the first nesters this season and on May 1-2 hatched two chicks, W1-16 and W2-16! On May 5, Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan photographed mom #13-03 with both her chicks (below), but the second chick (W2-16) had died by Bev's survey flight in mid May. Chick W1-16 was seen by pilot Bev Paulan on a May 11 flight, but had died by July 1.

Male #9-05 with his chick in My 2016

Fall 2016: Wintered again in Green County, Indiana.

Spring 2017: Male #9-05 and mate #13-03 were back at Necedah NWR and tending a nest by early April. They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan's May 12 and June 2 flights. They hatched chick W12-17 on June 5, but the chick was discovered dead on June 21.

Last updated: 7/03/2017

Back to "Meet the Flock 2005"

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