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

Crane # 804 (4-08)

Date Hatched

May 9, 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:
This chick has a huge personality. He already had a lot to say while still in the egg! Barb said, "When it was in the hatcher, we would check on the egg by making crane vocalizations to assess its strength and progress. Each time I did this, #4 just peeped and peeped and peeped. It was like a little girl who had her phone privileges taken away for a month and finally was able to talk on the phone again to her girlfriends. Chick #4 did this before hatching and also after being old enough to go to a pen.

Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC
When I opened the door to the aviary I could hear #4 peeping, peeping, peeping in the pen. It seemed like #4 was just waiting for someone to come so he could talk their ear off. Always the little talker! At #4's first swimming exercise, he would paddle his little legs the length of the pen like a true olympian. Every so often #4 would stop for a brief rest at the pool's end, and then get motoring along again like someone shot him out of a cannon. Amazingly enough, #4 had very little to say while in the pool as he concentrated on moving the legs and not the little beak!
The Aviary is set up with pens lined up along both sides of a long aisle. One day Barb heard two chicks peeping back and forth across the aisle to each other. Then she saw the tiny little shape of #804 in the left pen, and #807 standing directly across in the right side pen. Both little chicks were standing at their doorways peeping back and forth to each other. Both had so much to say!
Chick #804 was always near the front of his group during training, and paid good attention.
Notes from "flight school" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Arrived at Necedah NWR on June 25 with the first group of the Class of 2008. By mid July he and #803, the two oldest birds, were starting to fly in ground effect. On Aug. 10 Bev took the group to the marsh where they would be out of sight while the runway grass was cut. Bev said “804 became the most adventuresome of the group and wandered the farthest. At one point he tried climbing up on a very small tussock that gave him that perfect ‘king of the hill’ position. The tussock proved to be too small and too wobbly, so 804 was soon back in the water.”
On Aug. 15th, pilot Richard reported that new flier #804 took his first first full circuit with the trike (along with #803 and 805)! On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 6.6 kg.
He became a strong flier and was ready for migration by early October. 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.
Bees were a problem at the refuge and 804 was stung. The bee sting made his beak get out of line, but it was soon back to normal.
Photo Operation Migration

#804 is curious!
Photo:Tara Urette Hood, Sep. 19, 2008
First Migration South: Chick #804 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 #804 below.

Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, cranes #803, 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: All but one of the birds flew with Brooke at 2,000 feet altitude over the Twin Groves wind farm in Illinois with no problems.

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #804 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven.

January 23, 2009, Day 88: Migration complete for the "Chass 7" of #804, 803, 814, 818, 819, 824 and 827! However, 804 kept catching thermals and having too much fun to land. He kept flying until the plane was low on fuel. Finally an ultralight led him to a previously used landing site 9 miles away. Then he finished the migration by riding in a box on an airboat to join his flockmates on their remote island at Chass! SEE PHOTOS >>

Winter at the Chass Pen: Of the Chass 7, #804 is really looking like an adult with the red on his head. "He has the most red on his head. When he's threatening the costume or another chick, he slicks back the skin on his head and now that it's turning red, he looks more threatening than a younger bird with no red," said Sara. Eva said, "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."
2009 First Unaided Spring Migration: Cranes 804, 814, 818, and 819 left Florida on March 24 — the first four to leave Florida for Wisconsin on their first unaided migration! On March 31 The PTT on #818 indicated she was in Peoria County, IL. Tracking this group, Eva got to that location April 1 but found that crane #819 has separated from the others. The three continued migrating April 1 and 804, 814 and 818 were next reported April 7 in McHenry County, Illinois. The three reached Necedah NWR on April 16! They stayed in the area or nearby Dodge County all summer. By late October/early November 814, 804, and 818 joined with #828, 824, 827, and 830 there to make a group of seven. These seven were a mix of birds who had spent the winter at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and birds who’d spent the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR. This group remained together in Dodge County through the last check on December 4.
#804, 814, 818, 824, 827, 830. Despite being chased away by the winter monitoring team, the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009!
Photo ICF
Fall 2009: (Also see above) Crane #804 was in thegroup of seven who moved to Dodge County, WI in late fall and stayed through at least December 4. None of these birds were seen or heard from again until the evening of December 12 when #828 turned up by himself at the Hiwassee State Refuge in Tennessee! Where were #804 and the others? The answer came on January 8 when some workers at Chassahowitzka NWR went out to the pen to do some work before the Class of 2009 would arrive, and found the 6 Whooping cranes just outside the pen! The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from the Class of 2008 and #830, who had wintered at St. Marks NWR. Trackers expected the group to stay for a day or two and then move elsewhere, which usually happens when birds from the previous year complete their first unassisted migration. But the group of adults kept coming back to the pen as though they want to live there with the ten chicks of the Class of 2009! Finally they moved to a spot about a mile from the pen site.

Spring 2010: Cranes #804, 814, and 818 remained on Chassahowitzka NWR until they began migration on March 10. They were reported in Barbour County, Alabama, on March 13. PTT readings were later received for #818 nearby in Stewart County, Georgia, on the nights of March 18-20. The three were detected on southern Necedah NWR or just south of the refuge on April 1!

Fall 2010: Crane #804 (hereafter called #4-08) migrated successfully and was with yearling #910 (hereafter called #10-09) on December 23 in Levy County, Florida. They appeared at the St. Mark’s NWR pensite in Wakulla County, during late afternoon on January 24 and stayed until at least January 26. They were not welcome because the newly arrived Class of 2010 chicks were there. They had moved to Dixie County. FL by February 5.

Spring 2011: Began migration March 11 and reported back at Necedah NWR area by March 21 with pal #10-09.

Fall 2011: Male #4-08 (now with female #26-07) began migration on Dec. 1-5, according to ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. Vermillion County, Indiana was their wintering location.

Spring 2012: Male #4-08 (still with female #26-07) returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on March 7! Will these two cranes become a nesting pair?

Fall 2012: Male #4-08 left on fall migration ometime after November 5. He wintered with #26-07 (with whom he had been associating) and pair #11-02 & #30-08 in Vermillion County, Indiana (#30-08 died at this location). Began spring migration after February 24.

Spring 2013: Male #4-08 (still with female #26-07) began spring migration after Feb. 24 and returned to Necedah NWR in Wisconsin by March 24, only to have his mate, female #26-07, stolen away from him by the widowed #11-02 (formerly called #211). ICF tracker Eva thinks the new pair of #11-02 and 26-07 will most likely remain together but "we won't know for sure until nests start." Meanwhile, #4-08 is looking for a new mate. He was seen with female W3-10, who had been paired with 29-08. Eva added, "I don't know if #4-08 and W3-10 will remain together."

Fall 2013: Male #4-08 began migration from Necedah NWR with mate #25-09 on November 10. They were reported in Green County, Indiana on Nov. 15 and remained through at least Dec. 20 before moving to an unknown location (likely due to the extremely cold winter). They were found in Gibson County, Indiana on March 7 and moved north back into Greene County by March 21, 2014. They remained through at least March 27 before continuing north and completing migration.

Spring 2014: Crane #4-08 was back at Necedah NWR with mate #25-09 on March 31. The pair nested and the nest was still active when checked on April 30 but failed in May when parents abandoned it.

Fall 2014: Crane #4-08, with ##34-09 DAR, left the Necedah area on migration November 12. They wintered in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2015: Crane #4-08 (who has a nonfunctional transmitter) was likely back with Crane #34-09 DAR, who was observed on territory during the March 25 aerial survey. The pair nested, but the nest had failed by April 15.

Fall 2015: Male #4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR migrated south again to Green County, Indiana, where they were seen in November.

Spring 2016: Male#4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR returned to Wisconsin and were observed nesting on May 20 in an aerial survey and still nesting on June 7. Their new chick, W21-16, hatched on June 7 but did not survive into the summer.

Fall 2016: Male #4-08 and mate #34-09 DAR migrated south to Green County, Indiana, in early November.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #4-08 and #34-09 DAR returned to Wisconsin and were observed still nesting in April in an aerial survey.They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan's May 12 flight. First eggs were collected in the Forced Renesting Study. They re-nested and were incubating their second nest when seen on Bev Paulan's May 12 survey flight. On Bev's June 1 flight, she reported the pair away from the nest, no chick seen, and no egg in the nest.

Last updated: 6/10/17
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