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

Crane # 733 (33-07)

Date Hatched

June 8, 2007



Egg Source: USGS Patuxent WRC

Permanent Leg Bands

Weight 09/05/07:
5.2 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

Migration Training: From the start #733 was a bully, and quickly became the dominant bird in cohort 3 despite being smaller and having a leg problem. He pecked anyone who got in his way until they moved! When he met the other 3 chicks in his group, #733 quickly declared himself the new sheriff. He didn't seek anyone out to pick on, but if he wanted to go somewhere or do something and another chick was in her way, look out! He ignored little #735, which is a good thing as 735 is the smallest of all.

He came to Wisconsin in Cohort 3, the group of 4 youngest chicks that arrived July 18. Despite #733's spells of crankiness, training with Cohort 3 went well. He is one of the two youngest birds and by July 31 was still developing his primary flight feathers. He ran behind the trike with his heavy wings held out, but still unable to fly. (He'll be able to fly when his primary flight feathers grow in.) Chick 733 had foot/leg problems (rotated hocks) that were slow to improve. The team hoped that would change. Even though he and her young pal #735 can't keep up with the others in their group, the two youngsters always try. And they always come up to the trike at the end of the training session.

On Aug. 22, #733 flew the length of the runway!
Photo OM

By mid-August, the team was still concerned over 733's rotated leg, but he was doing very well. Being able to fly relieved stress on the leg caused by running to keep up. By Aug. 22, #733 flew the length of the grass runway!

Chick 733 was not afraid to stand up to the two adults (pair 211 and 217) that visited the runway. He took courage from his bold pal #727. The adults showed aggressive displays, but chicks 733 and pal 727 were bold enough to fly at them with necks stretched out and beaks snapping. The adults got out of their way! (The pilots tried to get between the aggressors so the birds don't hurt one another.) By mid September his leg and foot were much better. He walked well and landed fine. He became one of the better followers, too, always right on the wing. He tried to keep up with the new combined group of nine chicks in all.


First Migration South: Chick #733 left Wisconsin for his first migration on October 13th, 2007. He 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 #733 below.

Nov. 3, Day 22: Little #733 was doing his very best to stay in the lineup of 11 behind Brooke's plane. But pecking order put him at the back of the line, where he had to flap his wings harder to keep up. He got tired and dropped, so Brooke dropped down to keep #733 with him and help coax him onward. It worked for 10 to 15 minutes. Then the tired #733 dropped another 15 feet. Again Brooke dropped to stay with him and again he was encouraged to keep trying. Brooke said, "He hangs on with everything he's got." But the tired bird dropped again with just 8 miles left to the stopover. Chris moved in to give him an easier flight as the only bird with his ultralight, but his spirit and wings just couldn't kee up any longer and he went down for a landing. Charlie came to his rescue with a box and drove him the few miles left to the new stop. Three cheers for brave little #733 for a truly great effort!

Nov. 9, Day 28: 733 seemed to be afraid of something flying below the wing. Pilot Richard said, "He began to get tired as he tried to keep up. He would fly on the wing for a bit but then, screaming, he would duck under the wing and refuse to get back on top. After many attempts and many miles, we lost altitude and soon we were being bounced around in the rough air down lower." He dropped down to tree level but Richard kept going with the other tired birds. Soon Chris zoomed in to help. Eventually with Don and Paula’s help, Chris located and landed with #733 to keep him company while he waited for Brian to arrive to box him up and drive him to the Boone County, Indiana stopover. It was a long, tiring flight at 89.6 miles.

Nov. 10, Day 29: He did great, flying the whole distance of 55.2 miles.

Nov. 18, Day 37: The birds are grounded today. Young #733 is easy to spot because he still has the many rusty-colored feathers of a younger crane. He has caught up with the older cranes in flight endurance, and has been flying really well!

Poster Operation Migraton

Nov. 23, Day 42: #733 couldnt' keep up and dropped out of today's flight from Morgan County, Indiana on the way to Kentucky. The tracking team was unable to find him, but the search continued. They will make every effort to find and rescue him.

Nov. 26, Day 45: The full-scale search continues for #733 on this no-fly day in Kentucky. The news made the radio, TV, and newspapers as people were asked to report any sightings.

Nov. 28: Day 47: #733 is found!!!



Megan of Operation Migration with #733 at the Cumberland County, TN pen site in December, 2007

Photo Nathan Hurst, Operation Migration
Dec. 12, Day 61: It was a no-fly day, but a day for exercise. After flying in the misty air and running around in the rain, it was time for the birds to go back into the pen. Thirteen went in, but four were holdouts—including #733. The four would not budge. Just when the costumes thought they got one headed the right direction, the bird would spin away and run back to join the others, like a game of tag in the rain!

Dec. 29, Day 68: This was the day they flew over the Cumberland Ridge! Pilot Chris said, "#733 kept getting distracted by ponds, peeling off to descend and taking other birds with him." This caused Chris to drop lower in order to round up his group, giving up precious altitude that he had worked so hard to gain. But they made it over!

Jan. 28, 2008: The longest journey south in the flock's history is complete!
Tracker Eva Szyszkoski took this photo of #733 in DeKalb County, Alabama.

Spring 2008, First Journey North: On April 1 the last five members (733, 713, 712, 706, and 727) of the Class of 2007 began migration from the release site in Florida. They encountered a thunderstorm in late afternoon, shifted westward, and landed to roost in Leon County, Florida on the first night of their journey north. They continued on April 2, and once again afternoon showers made them drop out early.  Four of them, including 733, landed in Stewart County, Georgia. (Unfortunately, 727 dropped out about 6 miles south of the other four.) On April 3rd, the four males (706, 712, 713 and 733) continued migration to DeKalb County, Alabama. Rain kept them grounded for several days. On April 5, #733 separated from the group. He continued migration by himself on April 6 to Jackson County, TN and April 7 to Orange County, Indiana. The next day (April 8) he continued migrating north. His signal was lost as he neared Chicago and met with strong winds and rain. Just one day away from Necedah, he was likely to become the second ultralight (UL) bird to finish his spring migration — but trackers had no further signal or sign of him until May 6:

We first heard him on May 6 and tracked him to an area about 10 miles south of the refuge," wrote Colleen. May 7 Anna tracked him to an area north of Wisconsin Dells (about 40 miles south of the refuge). So May 8, he came all the way back to the refuge, but he didn’t stop there. He finally landed in a cornfield about 25 miles south of the refuge. He was alone and I could see him preening. I was really excited that I had managed to keep track of him all day and then figure out where he’d landed. But he had other plans. About 15 minutes after he had landed, he started flying again. He flew right past a group of 8 Sandhill Cranes that had been hidden from my view. Then they joined him and all nine of them started circling higher and higher into the sky until they disappeared. So I started following them as they headed toward the refuge. But only 5 miles from the refuge, I lost his signal as he landed for the night and I was not able to find him. The good thing is he’s close to the refuge, so we should be able to find him tomorrow, and now he’s with some other cranes!"
Photo Colleen Wisinski, ICF

He was seen in Iowa County, Wisconsin in early June. A Whooping crane was spotted in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, in mid August and it turned out to be #733!

Fall 2008: On November 17 crane #733 was detected migrating in southern Wisconsin. He was in Illinois Nov. 17 but was not tracked. Did getting lost for five days in Kentucky last year confuse his memory? Maybe not: he was found in Polk County, Florida on December 31. He was not associating with the other three Whooping cranes at that location during that or later observations.

Spring 2009: Cranes 733, 706, 712, and 713 were still in Polk County, Florida through at least April 4. On April 29, crane 733 wasback in Wisconsin. His signal was heard as he flew in/over/around the refuge briefly. He spent the summer unpaired and was reported in Chippewa County, WI in September.

Fall 2009: 733 was staging with Sandhill cranes in Clark County, WI as of October 26. He was last reported on Jasper-Pulaski FWA, Indiana, on December 6. He was reported with non-migratory sandhills in Polk County, FL, on February 15.

Spring 2010: His nonfunctional transmitter was replaced on February 26 on his Florida wintering area. He remained there with non-migratory sandhill cranes until he apparently began migration on March 28. Aviculturists working in Crane City at International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, were visited by 733 on April 4! He circled several times, landed in a prairie south of ICF’s breeding facility, circled again and landed right in Crane City right beside the pen of a Whooping crane pair. “He seemed a little too at home in Crane City,” Kim Boardman said. "Aviculturists had to finally