Meet the New 2006 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2006 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 604

Date Hatched

May 8 , 2006



Date of Photo: June 16, 2006

Egg Source: Calgary Zoo

Permanent Leg Bands

Weight 9/06/06: 6.0 kg
  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.

Personality and History

Migration Training: She started out afraid of everything! She came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 27 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. By August the chicks were showing their independence. For example, it sometimes took longer to herd the birds back into their pen than the day's actual training. Sometimes the adults #101 and #201 were right there in the mix, stirring up the chicks. That happened on Aug. 7. After much grape tossing and then some herding, all the chicks were tucked away. But #604 was the straggler. She didn't want to go back in the pen!

By August 15 she was flying up to 10 minutes in large circles over a big pool at the refuge.

First Migration South
: Read day-by-day news about the flock's migration to see what happens.

Oct. 5, 2006: Chick #604 left Wisconsin for her first migration on October 5th, 2006. After the departure from Necedah, 604 flew back to the pen before reuniting with the other chicks by following her own private aircraft! After the pilots landed with the other 17 birds, they turned around to look for #604; Joe found her on the runway in front of the chicks' pen back home on the refuge. It took several tries to get her to follow the ultralight plane. She kept breaking off, so the good old Swamp Monster apeared. It worked! Chick #604 flew alongside Joe to join her classmates in the travel pen at Stopover #1. It was a new migration record: all chicks flew to the first stop.

Oct. 10: After 4 no-fly days, 604 (and 606) decided that they would hang out inside the pen while the rest rushed out to greet the waiting trike. When Joe's trike and 16 birds took off, #604 (and# 606) were still back on the ground at the pen. Brooke moved in to pick these two up. They flew the whole 18 miles with Brooke's plane for a good trip to Stopover #2.

Oct. 12: The birds have been grounded at Stopover 2 by windy, cold weather. How cold? The water buckets and footbaths in the birds' pen is frozen over with a half inch of ice. Marie and Charlie used their puppets to break through the ice. The chicks decided they would peck at the newly broken-up ice, too. Standing on one foot, (because its too darn cold to stand on both) the chicks clustered around the buckets pecking and picking up the ice. After chipping her ice chunk down to a more reasonable sized ice cube, 604 swallowed it whole!

Oct 14: To entertain the birds, the team gave them some corn cobs. See #604 in the photo!

Oct. 23: After 7 days of being penned, #604 had a little trouble climbing to cross a ridge soon after takeoff. She landed with Joe to rest, and then did better after a second take off, flying on Joe's wingtip. With only two birds, Joe climbed to 2,500 feet and they made it to the next stopover. More.

Oct. 31: On this no-fly day, Marie went to the pen to check the birds: "Most of the birds were peacefully eating and drinking together and peeping contentedly. That is, until 613 picked up a golf ball sized seedpod that 604 wanted. 604 went after it as 613 ran toward a water bucket to clean off her find. Then 606 ran in to grab the seed, but 613 gulped it down too quickly. 606, obviously disgruntled that she didn’t get any, gave 613 a peck on the back. That seemed to restore the peace, and by the time we left the pen the three birds were foraging side-by-side."

December 2: She made it over the Cumberland Ridge! But she wasn't a willing flyer after that tough day. On the December 3 flight she was one of the three birds that were crated and driven from Hiwassee Refuge to Gordon County, Georgia.

January 12, 2007: Moving day! Chick #604 (along with 606 and 623) refused to follow the ultralight planes today when the pilots tried to move the 18 chicks from the layover site to "Chass." #604 was boxed and taken to a travel pen in Citrus County for overnight with other chicks that quit flying before they reached Chass. The next day was better and 604 flew with Joe and 11 other chicks the last 5 miles to their final winter pen. Home!

Feb. 2, 2006: Crane 604 died when violent storms moved through central Florida during the night, killing all 17 chicks in the pen at Chass. Only #615 somehow managed to escape.

Last updated: 2/4/07

Back to "Meet the Flock 2006"

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