Meet the 2007 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2007 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 726 (#26-07)

Date Hatched

May 25, 2007



Egg Source: USGS Patuxent WRC

Permanent Leg Bands

Weight 09/05/07:
5.5 kilograms

Left Leg Right Leg
  • 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 (Scroll down for most recent)

Migration Training: #726 is huge! She is almost twice the size of her training buddies, but she is nice and mellow. She has two siblings (#710 and #714) in the Class of 2007. In her first weeks of life she was easily distracted by yummy worms and other treats. She was not a good follower. She ruled the roost and kept #727 in check before younger #733 and #735 came along to complete this group. Trainer Barb said, "726 was never really mean, but a subtle peck or even her mere presence was enough to make the other chicks move away and out of her reach." She came to Wisconsin in cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. By July 31 she could fly in ground effect for short distances.

Chicks #735, #726 ad #727 training on Aug. 22.
Photo OM

By mid August, 726 was flying very short circuits behind the ultralight plane. Because of the large age gap in Cohort 3, the group's two older chicks (726 and 727) were trained together for a short time before the two younger chicks joined them. The pilots then slowed the pace for the two younger birds. All are making steady progress. By mid September #726 was flying longer and farther. She followed the trike much better than when she was a tiny chick. But Bev says #726 is still more interested in chasing grasshoppers than following the ultralight plane!

On October 6, chick #726 strutted her stuff when she flew alone with Chris and his plane and stayed with him for the entire flight!

First Migration South: Chick #726 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. She flew the whole first leg of the journey and landed safely at Stopover #1! Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #726 below.

She's doing wonderfully on the migration, but here's a story about her mischief:

Nov. 7, Day 26: Pilot Chris wrote, "I've had the pleasure of flying with #726 for the last two flights. This bird loves to be in the lead position and is constantly pulling my strings (literally). Our fabric wings attain their airfoil shape by aluminum battens that are inserted into the wing and secured at the trailing edge by strings under tension. Crane #726 has picked up a habit of tugging on the outer batten string; an amusing thing to watch the first few times, but it becomes a bit annoying after awhile. Surfing my right wing, she would continuously grab the knot at the end of the string and give an upward tug, trying to hold on as long as possible. Each time she tugs the string, I need to counteract by bringing the wing back down; otherwise I begin to turn to the left. This went on for the entire flight and I had visions of her actually succeeding in removing the batten — a scary thought for me as well as any unfortunate person standing on the ground below me."

#726 investigates the ever-present adult crane model that got knocked down in their pen.
Photo Bev Paulan,
Operation Migration

Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but the third day down, so the chicks were let out to exercise. Chick 726 didn't want to be herded back into the pen. She turned on Brooke and made a great show of jumping at him, spinning, jumping, and trying to show Brooke who was the boss of this game! She was one of four chicks that wouldn't go back into the pen until after a very soggy game of tag.

Dec. 20: When Megan and Brian took the birds out to play in the some water, #726 didn't want to go back into to the pen! At the last moment she turned and flew away. She stood watching from the crest of a hill, wings drooping nearly to the ground out of pure exhaustion. Megan said, "She followed easily but slowly after I trotted up the hill to fetch her before she tried to fly again. Stopping for a short rest every few feet made for a long trip, but she seemed in much better spirits by the time we got back to the pen."

Jan. 28, 2008: Migration complete!

Crane #726 had attained her adult voice by February, 2008.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: Began migration from Florida March 26 in a group of five (716, 717, 721, 724, and 726). They ended up in Calhoun County, Georgia for the night, about 220 miles north of their starting location. The next day, after a fog rolled through, the cranes resumed migration to Coffee County, Tennessee. On March 31, these five birds left Coffee County and were in Daviess County, Indiana that evening. They continued migration to Jefferson County, Wisconsin on April 16. On April 19 at 11:30 they arrived in the vicinity of Necedah NWR and proceeded to circle over portions of Juneau, Adams, Monroe, and Wood Counties before they landed on farmland along the Yellow River. Migration complete! (They didn't stay on Necedah NWR until April 21.)

Fighting with a sandhill crane (far left) in Jefferson County, WI

April 19, 2008: HOME!

Photos Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fall 2008: Migrated and wintered in Hernando County, Florida with cranes #709, 710, 717, and 722.

Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

Spring/Summer 2009: Began migration from Hernando County, FL with cranes #709 and #717 on March 24. All three were confirmed back in Wisconsin at Necedah NWR by April 2. That summer, female 726* and mate #307 staked out the site of one of the ultralight chick cohorts as their territory. They were very aggressive about it, especially at evening roost-check time. Handler/trainer Bev said, "The pair stalks us as we walk away from the pen and #726, whom I raised from an egg, is the more aggressive of the two. She runs up behind us, stamping her feet and stabbing at us with her long beak. I turn and face her, remembering her as a cute fuzzy little chick, running enthusiastically behind me, waving stubby wings trying to keep up. I remember feeding her meal worms, coaxing her to follow the trike and not be afraid. Now, I have to stand up to her and chase her from the runway. She greets us with a crouch threat, laying all the way down on the ground in anticipation of leaping up and jump-raking us. Then she turns and struts with stiff legs, showing her glorious red crown, trying to intimidate. She then goes through every threat posture possible, telling us that this is her territory, and chicks or not, she is staying! I stand my ground, mostly because I am so impressed by this incredibly beautiful, incredibly graceful creature that I helped nurture. She is now truly wild, doing the things a wild bird would do, acting the way a wild bird would act. Trying to scare off the intruder even if it was her 'mama.'"

Fall 2009: By December 7, all but 11 Whooping Cranes were gone from the new Eastern flock's summer home in Wisconsin. Those 11 included pair #307 and 726, two single males (#506 and #713) and seven of this year's nine DAR chicks. They surprised experts when they chose to begin migration on a very snowy December 11, after being content to roost on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the previous week. That day they reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, "When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside." The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the first three days of migration, which was the first-ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles! Pair 307 and 726 safely reached their winter home in Alachua County, Florida.

Photos Eva SzyszKoski, ICF

Spring 2010: Female #726 (hereafter known as #26-07) and mate #7-03 (hereafter known as #307) completed their migration from the Alachua County, Florida area by March 22.

Fall 2010: Pair #26-07 (formerly #726 and 7-03 (formerly #307) apparently began migration from Necedah NWR on November 23. They were next found December 13 on their previous wintering territory in Alachua County, Florida.

Spring 2011: Pair #26-07 (formerly #726) and #7-03 (formerly #307) were on their winter territory when checked on March 1, but they apparently began migration on/by March 8. They had arrived at their territory on Necedah NWR by March 25. These first-time nesters were incubating on April 10 but their first nest failed on May 4. Her mate was discovered dead on their territory in July; female 26-07 moved to another part of the refuge and spent time with other Whooping cranes there.

Fall 2011: Female #726 (with #804) began migration on Dec. 1-5, according to ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. Wintering location was Vermillion County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Female #26-07 (formerly #726) and her mate #4-08 (formerly #804) returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 7 and spent the summer together.

Fall 2012: She was captured Oct. 24 and her transmitter replaced before migration. Her original band colors remain the same.

Spring 2013: Female #26-07 arrived by March 24 on Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. ICF This female may was soon stolen away from her old mate #4-08 (formerly #804) by the widowed #11-02 (formerly #211). Sure enough, before May 3 the new pair had built a nest together, but abandoned the nest in early May when an outbreak of black flies tormented many of the crane pairs off their nests.

Fall 2013: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 migrated to Vermillion County, Indiana, where they were at least through January 25.

Spring 2014: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin and nested. Their nest was still active when checked on April 30. One chick seen with the parents on the May 29 survey flight but it did not survive.

Fall 2014: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 left on migration on 17-23 October and stopped at their usual location in Vermillion County, Indiana, through at least 3 January, however (unlike last year) they apparently didn't want to remain there through the colder weather and continued to Cherokee County, Alabama for the winter.

Spring 2015: Female #26-07 and mate #11-02 were back in Juneau County Wisconsin by the March 25 aerial survey flight by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan.The pair's first nest failed on April 15 but they re-nested. It was a sad day when her remains were collected on her second nest of two eggs on May7th. Death had likely occurred around May 5th.

Last updated: 6/2/15

Back to "Meet the Flock 2007"

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