Photo: Brian Clauss, PWRC
Meet the 2008 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2008 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 827

Date Hatched

June 11 , 2008



Egg Source: Calgary Zoo

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 bottom for most recent history.*

Personality and Training:

Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:
Cohort 3 (the youngest birds) has a few meanies and #827 is one of them. He is very aggressive to the puppet and to the other chicks! On July 14 Barb said, "#827 has been included in walking with the GOOD birds in this group (820, 826, 828 and 830) and being socialized with them. But he can be a little butt biter when he gets a chance.

Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC
The other chicks have learned that he is a meanie. They seem to know to steer clear of his path.  He was originally in his own pen but later was blended into the group with #20, #26, #28 and #30. On July 26, Barb reported that #827 was still a little "butt- biter," pecking at the butts of the other chicks in his group when they walked past him. She said, "Even though #828 has become the dominant bird, #827 hasn't lost hope. He stands up so tall and just won't back down, which causes #829, the most dominant in the group, to fight." He is also a puppet hater!

#827 with #828
Photo Brian Clauss, Patuxent WRC

Notes from "flight school in Wisconsin:
Arrived at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge July 29 in cohort 3, the youngest group in the Class of 2008. He enjoys both the wet and dry pens equally. He also tries an occasional “face off” with the “King”, 829. According to pilot Brooke, those face offs end with #827 backing away and slinking off in embarrassed humility. On the Sept. 2 health check he weighed 4.8 kg.

On Sep. 26 the combined cohorts 2 and 3 flew together for the first time. The weather had kept them grounded for five days. Chick 827 dropped out (so did 826) and returned to the pen on his own.

October 16, the day before migration began, the team flew the birds to a different part of the refuge. They had set up the travel pen and wanted the birds to spend the night in their "new" pen to help them get used to it.

Just #827, flying alone with Joe’s plane, was reluctant to land in the unfamiliar travel pen. But he finally did! Now the birds are ready for migration.
Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #827 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 17, 2008. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #827 below.

Oct. 17, Day 1: After a good take-off, #827 dropped out and landed in a marsh. Brooke was circling in search of him when #827 took to the air and followed Brooke all the way to the first stopover. Hooray for #827! (He continued to like to fly by himself with one of the ultralights.)

October: During training it seemed he was much more interested in poking in the mud for bugs and worms instead of following the trikes. He still just loves to poke his long beak into the mud! Whenever the costumes go inside the pen to change the birds' water or feed, they dump any water left in the buckets into their shallow pans that the birds like to step into. Most of the water splashes outside onto the ground and the first one to start poking into the new mud is #827!

November 5, Day 20: Heather took this photo of #827 stretching his wings in the pen at the evening roost check Nov. 5.

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

November 10, Day 25: Normally cranes fly with long legs extended straight out behind them.It was so cold on Day 25 that the birds tucked their legs up into their feathers to keep them warm. Here's #827 with legs tucked, taken by Pilot Chris Gullikson as #827 flew near the wing of Chris's trike. Click on the photo to see the YouTubeVideo clip!
Video Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Not only does #827 prefer to fly with his own trike, but it seems that wind turbines freak him out. Brooke had 13 birds with him and flew over the Twin Groves wind farm with no problems at 2,000 feet altitude. Richard had the “prince” #827 with him at 2,500 feet. As soon as the bird saw the wind turbines he did a 180-degree turn. Richard had to turn and collect him to try again.The bird turned back again! He would NOT cross over the wind turbines! Richard ended up having to change course to go around the turbines. In all, he was 22 miles behind the rest of the cranes and planes...but he made it to the next stop just fine!

November 27, Day 42: He did it again. Crane #827 flew well with the other birds until near the end of today's 108-mile flight into Kentucky. Then he peeled off and flew alone with Richard the last 30 minutes of flying. Smart bird!

December 12, Day 57: This time he refused to come out of the pen for the take-off! It took both Heather and Bev in the pen to shoo him out so he'd take off. By then had Joe's plane all to himself. (Was that his plan all along?)

January 13, Day 78: As usual 827 lagged behind when the pen gates were thrown open for today's flight. But pilot Brooke felt lucky at take-off and said, "827 must have felt it also, because after leaving the pen late he made a bee-line for us and joined up." He stayed with Brooke and all the others the entire flight!

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

Winter at the Chass Pen: After health checks and banding were done, #827 was the only relaxed bird. The rest of the birds wanted nothing to do with the costume after being put through the capture and exam! At mid February his voice had not yet changed and he did not yet have the red patch on his head.
Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: 827, 803 and 824 (who is wearing a PTT), stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th. They 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, the next day. 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! Crane #827 spent much of the summer with #824, 828, and 830, as well as with #805 and 812 in nearby Dodge County, WI. The group of four (827, 824, 828, 830) left that location and on September 18 were reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County. By late October/early November they had been joined by 804, 814, and 818 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.
Photo ICF
Fall 2009: (Also see above) Crane #827 was in the group of seven (see just above) 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 #827 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 one 2008 bird 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. 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! They finally moved, but to a spot only about a mile from the pen site.
Spring 2010: Departed the Chass pen area on April 5 with the "Chass 9" chicks and subadults #824 and #830. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6 p.m. On April 6 crane #907 took off on her own in the early morning and the group continued migration and roosted the night of April 6 in Jackson County, Alabama. This was just 10 miles from the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather conditions. The group of 11 continued migration to Porter County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here they split into a group of eight (#824, 827 and 830, 901, 904, 905, 924 and 929) and a group of three (#913, 919 and 927). Both groups continued the next day (April 10), when the group of eight completed migration to Necedah NWR! Crane #828 remained mainly in the Mill Bluff area where he associated mainly with female #42-09 (DAR). They were often joined by a number of cranes.

Fall 2010: Crane #827 began migration with #829 on Nov. 23. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, on that evening and remained in that area until continuing migration on November 27. Reported December 27 with #829, #814 and #824 in, Citrus County, Florida, where they remained until February.

Spring 2011: Male #827 left Citrus County when his winter buddies began migration and arrived at the Chassahowitzka NWR pensite on Feb. 21. He wasn't welcome there because this site is for the Class of 2010 youngsters. But he stayed anyway! The photos below show #827 trying to sneak past the costume to get to the feeders. He's in the feeding shelter on the right, but the feeders were then hung out of reach because at first he wouldn't let the chicks eat out of them! His aggressive behavior eventually eased up a little.

#827 wants the free food at the Chass pen.
Photos: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

On March 18, three males from the Class of 2009 dropped in and stayed until March 20. They didn't cause any problems with the chicks because when they tried to come into the pen, #827 and the chicks chased them back out. The feeders were lowered as migration time came near, and #827 sometimes even let the chicks eat out of the same feeder as he did.

He began migration from the Chass pen site on April 1 and was heard flying towards Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on April 6! Later he was seen building a nest with #908, but without results.

Fall 2011: Migrated with #908 to Knox County, Indiana.

January 2012: Male crane #827 was shot and killed in early January in Knox County, Indiana. In May 2012 it was announced that charges are pending against Jason R. McCarter, 21, of Wheatland, and John C. Burke, 23, of Monroe City, IL. According to a case filed with the prosecutor, ICO Joe Haywood received information in mid-January that a Whooping crane had been spotlighted at night an shot and killed with a high-powered rifle. An investigation that identified the suspects took place by multiple law enforcement agencies, wildlife biologists and priviate individuals. John Burke and Jason McCarter of Knox County pleaded guilty and were sentenced on November 21, 2012. Their sentence included three years p[robation and a donation of $5000 to the International Crane Foundation.

At the time of his 2012 death, male crane #827 was the third confirmed shooting death of a Whooping crane in Indiana.

Last updated: September 2012
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