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

Crane # 520

Date Hatched at Patuxent
(Egg from ICF)

May 31 , 2005



Date Arrived in Wisconsin

July 13

Weight Aug. 31

Permanent Band Colors
Left Leg:

5.6 Kg

Right Leg:

G/W radio USFWS 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: Scroll Down for Most Current

Migration Training: Chick #520 and #526 did very well in training at the circle pen at the hatching center in Maryland (at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center). Chick #520 shipped to Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on July 13 with other cohort 3 (youngest) chicks, ready for flight school. All cohort 3 birds surprised the ultralight pilots by quickly coming out of their pen on their first day of training after arriving at Necedah NWR. They all ran after the trike, following closely. Hooray! She was a pretty good little flyer by August 28. That's when the older, better flyers of Cohort 2 moved in with the younger Cohort 3 chicks at the east site. (The two groups will live together but train separately until the younger ones become stronger flyers.) When the Cohort 3 birds were still flying around with the ultralight, #520 landed in a marsh, right behind the Cohort 2 side of the pen. She stayed close. But when it was Cohort 2's turn to fly, #520 tried to follow. She flew down to the end of the runway, but she stopped as the ultralight and the other birds came closer. John was glad, because she's probably not ready yet to fly with Cohort 2. "She wouldn't have been able to keep up."

Chick #520 is one of the chicks struggling to keep up with the group. She's been flying back to the runway and missing out on over half the flights. The September 9 training session was an improvement for this group. All the Cohort 3 birds took off with the trike and followed the pilot for a few minutes. Then three birds dropped out and returned to the grass runway---and #520 wasn't one of them! Handler John Thomton said, "I was happiest for #520, who has been hugging the runway a lot lately. She followed the trike for the entire time today! That's my girl!!"

On September 15, all the birds of Cohort 1 and 2 took their very first flight together. All came out of the pen very excited, all flew well, and only #520 and her buddy #519 turned back early. Mark said, "That's okay. They just don't have the strength that the rest do." She tends to be submissive in the cohort, and can't keep up with the other birds in the air. She has dropped out of the flight over the refuge, but returns to the runway on her own.
On Sep. 20, pilots tried to fly all 20 birds together for the first time. Sixteen flew with the trike for about ten minutes, but #520 (along with 511, 519, and 524) were stragglers that came back to the runway.

First Migration South
: Chick #520 left Wisconsin for her 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 Chick #520:

On Day 14, Joe looked down to see a lone bird flying far below. It was #520, who tired, struggling, and dropping. Joe did a fast descent to collect the lone bird. She was panting hard and anxious to join Joe's wing. #520 dropped into place and soon closed her beak and began to breathe normally. She got a nice lift from the current under Joe's wing and had a much easier flight with more gliding and less flapping.

On Day 58, she was one of the 12 birds who didn't make it to the Cook County, GA stop. She dropped off Richard's wing and landed in a sod farm south of Albany, Georgia. Trackers located her signal and Chris, who had dropped off his bird at Cook County, turned back to find her. As soon as she saw Chris flying low over the field she popped up and followed Chris back to the starting point. Not long after Chris got #520 on the wing, the team began wondering if he had enough gas to get there.  Luckily, Chris was able to make it back and the bird was fine.

On Dec. 13, #520 landed safely with the 19-bird flock 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 chicks on January 9, 10 and 11. Crane #520 made it to Chass on the third day of trying, January 11. HOME for the winter!

Spring 2006: #520 began spring migration with adult whooping crane #309 (who has never successfully returned to Wisconsin) on March 27, one day before the rest of her flock mates. They made it to Dooley County, Georgia March 27, and then to northern Georgia on March 28. On March 29 the two were still together in Meigs/Rhea Counties in Tennessee, right on the route back to Wisconsin! On March 30 they were in Ripley County, IN. The two resumed migration April 2. According to PTT readings, they roosted that night in Huntington County, Indiana; on April 3 in Allen County, Indiana; and on April 4-5 along the western shore of Lake Huron in Sanilac County, Michigan. On April 6 they continued northward and stayed along the shore of Lake Huron in Huron County, MI until April 13 when they moved into Ontario, Canada. On Apr 15 they continued eastward re-entered the U.S. to roost in Jefferson County, NY. Both birds returned to Lewis County, NY April 17 before moving on April 21 to Addison County, Vermont.They flew back to Lewis County NY (the area that #309 occupied in the spring of 2005) on April 29.

Photo Richard van Heuvelen, OM

The two were captured May 5, 2006 and flown in a private plane HOME to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Will #520 get it right next year? Don't miss the slide show of this capture-and-return adventure:

Fall 2006: Departed undetected in the Nov. 19 mass migration of 28 whoopers. Until then, he was in farm fields and wetlands in Monroe County, near the flock's Wisconsin summer home. He was still with #309 as they migrated south. On Dec. 18 they completed migration to the Chassahowitzka pen site! HOORAY! This is a BIG DEAL because it was the first successful unassisted migration between Wisconsin and Florida for BOTH of them. Crane #309 went to North Carolina the past 2 autumn migrations, leading #520 astray with her. (See details.)

left "Chass" on Dec. 20 and moved to Pasco County. By December 22 they had moved to Hernando County, but they were quite close to houses (and that means people). What will happen next? Will they migrate back to Wisconsin in spring, or will they go astray again?

They left "Chass" on Dec. 20 and moved to Pasco County. By December 22 they had moved to Hernando County, where they were quite close to houses. She wandered between Pasco and Hernando Counties, hanging out with #407, #309 and sandhill cranes. She visited the Chass pen on January 12 wandered off by herself and flew back to Hernando County Jan. 14.

Spring 2007: Crane #520 (and #401) arrived to roost on Necedah NWR by the night of March 22. They had begun migration from Pasco County, FL on March 13.

Fall 2007: Found with staging sandhills near Clark County, Wisconsin, on October 9, then with a sandhill pair in Monroe County. Left Wisconsin on migration November 27. Found on Hiwassee WR in Tennessee throughout December.

Spring 2008: Female 520 began migration from Armstrong Bend and Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, Tennessee, sometime between February 28 and March 14. Sara reported on April 9 that #520 has been confirmed back in Jackson County, Wisconsin, where she typically spends the summer. She was there through at least September 30. Her transmitter is nonfunctional, and she cannot be tracked.

Fall 2008: #520 was observed with Sandhill cranes near the refuge Nov. 16, but her transmitter does not work so she cannot be tracked. She was next reported in Benton County, Indiana on Nov. 21 — and confirmed there with #309 and #403 on November 25. The three ended up in Lafayette County, Florida in December. (Crane #520 has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.)

Spring 2009: Female #520 (with her paired friends #403 and #309) apparently began migration from Taylor County, Florida, between February 19 and 25. Unpaired, she was last reported in Jackson County, Wisconsin on June 16.

Fall 2009: Still missing.

Spring 2010: An unidentified whooping crane reported from Jackson County on May 24 may have been #520. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Fall 2010: No news.

Spring 2011: No news. (See Spring 2010, above.)

Fall 2011: On September 29, tracker Eva Szyszkoski announced that female #520 is no longer beig counted as alive. She has not been confirmed alive since June 16, 2009. A Whooping crane was reported at her normal summmering area in Jackson County, WI on May 24, 2010, but the bird's identity was never confirmed and it was not sighted again.

Last updated: 9/29/11

Back to "Meet the Flock 2005"

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