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

Crane # 828 (28-08)

Date Hatched

June 12 , 2008



Egg Source: Calgary Zoo

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching St. Marks)

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:
He was a good follower but then picked up the bad habit of mucking about for bugs and worms — which was probably more fun! Still, he is one of the GOOD birds. Even though #828 likes to do the "I'm bigger than you" game with the other birds in the youngest group, he causes no real problems. Barb says they see just the normal heiarchial interactions that normally occur in a group. As they prepared to leave for Wisconsin, he was not ready to give up challenging #829 to be the dominant bird in this group and he could still be "pecky."

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 sometimes stands up to #829, the "king" in this group, but #828 always backs down and slinks away from this more dominant bird.
He weighed 4.7 kg at his pre-migration health check. Heather calls him part of the “Zoo Posse” because the egg he hatched from comes from the Calgary Zoo (along with 827, 829 & 830) and they’re all nearly the same age.


First Migration South: Chick #828 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 17, 2008. He proved to be a strong flier! Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #828 below.

#828 at Necedah in August
Photo Operation Migration
Oct. 29, Day 13: Young male #828 was very eager to fly this morning! He squealed very loudly, wanting to be let out of the travel enclosure as he heard the aircraft approach. When Bev and Heather opened the two large gates to release the birds, #828 was the first one out! Here he finds the "sweet spot" right next to the wing, where he can glide on air currents off the trike's wing rather than flap his own wings! (With him is #814.)

Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

November 21, Day 36: Crane #828 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


January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #828 was one of the seven dropouts when they left Chilton County, Alabama. He was crated and driven for the second (Day 57) time during this migration.

January 17, Day 82: Migration to St. Marks NWR Complete (cranes 805, 812, 813, 826, 828, 829 and 830)!

Winter Pen at St. Marks: #828 is about to pluck a blue crab out of the water!

Photo Bev Paulan, OM

Spring 2009 First Unaided Migration North: All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort started their migration north on March 30! Second-hand reports say that the group took to the air, found a thermal, and were gone on the wind as wild cranes fly. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. On March 31 a PTT reading from #813 put her in Chambers County, Alabama. The other six stayed together and were reported April 5 in a flooded corn field southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Crane 826 somehow became injured and was rescued by an uncostumed person and taken for medical care, while #828 and the other four cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7. (See photo) On April 16, crane #828 and his remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin's Necedah NWR—migration complete!

Crane #828 spent much of the summer with buddies #824, 827, and 830, as well as with #805 and 812 in nearby Dodge County, WI. He (with 824, 827, and 830) left that location and on September 18 the four 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.

April 15 in Illinois!
Photo Operation Migration

Fall 2009: Crane 828 was in the group of seven (see just above) that 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! Hiwassee is a great place for cranes and a popular stop over and wintering area for thousands of Sandhills and a number of our Whooping Cranes, but trackers were surprised when #828 was there. Why? He was led south on the new, more westerly ultralight route the previous fall, so he had never been to Hiwassee before. Also he was there by himself, having separated from the other 6 birds he’d been with for more than 2 months. ICF's Sara said, "We were glad to know where he was, but a bit puzzled about how and why he got there and also curious where the remaining 6 birds were." (Safe and sound, they turned up on January 8 at Chassahowitzka NWR. The group of 6 consisted of all 5 surviving Chassahowitzka NWR birds from last year and one bird from St. Marks NWR.) Now the question is: Will #828 stay at Hiwassee in Tennessee for the winter, or will he continue on to Florida? How do YOU think he found his way there?

Spring 2010: Tracker Eva heard the signal of #28-08 (hereafter to be known as #828) on April 11 at Necedah NWR, migration complete.

Fall 2010:

Spring 2011: He migrated from Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on March 8 and was back at the Necedah NWR area by March 21. By April 2 he had moved to nearby Horicon NWR in Dodge County with with 19-10 DAR, 25-10 DAR and 27-10 DAR.

Fall 2011: Crane #28-08 ( formerly #828) wintered in North Carolina with #10-05.

Spring 2012: After wintering in North Carolina, crane #828 (#28-08) and #5-10 were located by tracker Eva in Bartholomew County, Indiana on Feb. 29. The pair completed migration back to Necedah NWR on March 11. They were seen sitting on a nest platform at Necedah NWR on April 11 but tracker Eva said: "Since #5-10 is only two years old, we probably won't call this an official nest unless we see more evidence of consistent incubation, or eggs in the nest." On May 3, Eva said the pair apparently have a nest in Marathon County. "They were sitting during both checks on May 1 and both checks on May 2, so we are going to go ahead and assume that they have an egg." They were still incubating as of May 29. Trackers collected their single infertile egg on June 4 after the pair incubated it past full term and it didn't hatch.

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Crane #28-08 and #5-10 completed migration by April 2. By late April or early May they were reported nesting. This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, possibly due to an outbreak of black flies. On May 21, they hatched the first wild-hatched chick (W1-13) of this season!

Newly hatched W1-13 and W2-13 with parents

By May 23, the second chick (W2-13) had hatched!

Parents 28-08 and 5-10 with their newly hatched chicks, W1-13 and W2-13

Eva, ICF tracker, last saw both chicks on May 26, so only one of the twins (W1-13, below, May 29) survived its first weeks. It is very rare for twins to survive in the wild, especially to very new and inexperienced parents. The chick was observed with parents when it was two weeks of age, and again when it was just days shy of 1 month of age. Unfortunately, the chick (no. W1-13) was lost between the afternoon of 26 June and the afternoon of 2 July at 36-42 days of age.

W1-13 with parents 28-08 and 5-10 on May 29, 2013.

Fall 2013: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee with many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2014:
Cranes 5-10/28-08 and 37-07 began migration together from their wintering area at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on 21/22 February. They were reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on the evening of the 22nd and apparently stayed until March 21, when a signal for #5-10 was detected heading north. The pair was photographed on their Marathon County (WI) territory in April.
The pair (#5-10 and #28-08) built a nest and hatched a chick, which was observed with them on the May 29 aerial survey flight.

Fall 2014: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee to join many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2015: #28-08 and female #5-10 returned to the Necedah area and hatched twin chicks around May 16. By June 8, just one chick, shown below, survived, and by June 23 had died.

W6-15 on June 8Photo Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2016: Male #28-08 and mate #5-10 had returned to their Necedah area territory by the end of March. No chicks for them this summer.

Fall 2016: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 returned to their wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Marathon County and were nesting by early April! Their chick, W4-17, was found by pilot Bev Paulan on a May 12 flight (photo below). It was still doing well at age 17 days when seen on Bev's May 25 aerial survey flight but had disappeared by her June 15 flight. Sadly, this pair will fledge no chick this summer.

Chick W4-17 with parents on May 12, 2017


Last updated: 6/16/17
Back to "Meet the Flock 2008"