Meet the 2008 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2008 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 803

Date Hatched

May 6 , 2008



Egg Source: Patuxent WRC

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Chass)

Left Leg Right Leg
 radio antenna 
  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.
    * Scroll to end for most recent history*

Personality and Training:

Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:
After hatching May 6, the tiny chick was moved from his ICU to a big pen May 7, reported Bev Paulan. "Even in his ICU, a little glimmer of personality showed up. He seems quite the little 'ham.' A small camera is on his ICU and quite often he positions himself to look right into the camera, even when we are trying to feed him."

Barb describes #803 as a dominant bird, big and strong in appearance. He had attitude, and showed some aggression to the other chicks. Barb said it's pretty cute to see their faces when they see #3 arrive to join them on a walk. Barb is pretty sure the other two were delighted with their peaceful little adventure, and their "smiles" fade to dismay when they see #803 coming to join them! The trainers saw #803 go into bully mode and had to separate from the group on many occasions. Sometimes #803 is a real meanie!

Photos Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC


Notes from "flight school in Wisconsin:
Arrived in Wisconsin June 25 with cohort 1 (oldest chicks). By mid July he and 804 were starting to fly in ground effect. On Aug. 15th, pilot Richard reported that new flier #803 took his first first full circuit with the trike (along with #804 and 805)! On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 6.5 kg. He made good training progress and is a good bird. On Oct. 4 pilots and handlers by the pen site spent 45 minutes being entertained by #803 and #813 trying to chase off #509, who had stopped by for a visit. Chick #803 is a good, strong flier and ready for the migration. On Oct. 8, a day after cohort-mate #810 was removed because of aggressive behavior, the team let 803, 804 and 805 keep #810 company in his pen for the morning and all went well.

July 22 in Wisconsin
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration
First Migration South: Chick #803 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #803 below.

Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, crane #803 and buddies 804 and 805 turned back to familiar territory and dropped out. The ground crew found these three, crated them, and drove them to Stop #1 in the tracking van!

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #803 and 12 others flew with Brooke over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. They flew 114 miles! Today's lead pilot Brooke summed it up: "I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear our birds looked as proud of themselves as we were of them. They had been in the air 2 hours and 20 minutes, withstood teen temperatures the whole flight, and performed beyond our greatest expectations."
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

December 12, Day 57: Richard battled rough air to gain more altitude. At last they did reach the calm air, but 803 kept flying under the wing and seemed to be getting tired. He dropped out about 23 miles from the new stop at Franklin County, AL. Brian retrieved and boxed him with help from Jack Wrighter, top cover pilot. It was a tough day!

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #803 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the third time in this migration.

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the "Chass 7" of #803, 804, 814, 818, 819, 824 and 827! SEE PHOTOS >>

Crane #803 has a drink of water at the guzzler in the pen.
Winter at the Chass Pen: "This year #803 and #804 are the trouble makers. They are the ones that stir up trouble at roost time, and may even fly out of the pen, prompting others to follow," reported ICF tracker/pen monitor Eva.

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: 803, 824 (who is wearing a PTT) and 827, the three birds that stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th, left the Chassahowitzka pensite the morning of April 4! Richard Urbank tracked them to a location about 45 miles almost due east of the town of St. Marks, Florida. On April 4, cranes 803, 824, and 827 arrived in Thomas County, GA and resumed migration on April 6 despite a headwind. As of April 15, they were still in Georgia (Mitchell County), presumably together, on flooded, wet land (good!). They resumed migration to Marshall County, Alabama, on April 17 and then to Christian County, Kentucky, on 18 April. They continued migration to Webster County, Kentucky, on April 21; to Effingham County, Illinois, on April 22; Henry County, Illinois, on April 23 and completed migration to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on April 24!

Death: The carcass of #803 was discovered by ICF Tracking Field Manager Eva Szyszkoski in Wood County, Wisconsin on April 29. Clues indicated possible predation by a bobcat. Crane #803 had last been observed alive along with#824 and #827 at the same location on the previous evening. Remains will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

Last updated: 4/29/09

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