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

Crane # 829 (29-08)

Date Hatched

June 13, 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:

Barb says #829 and #830 (the two youngest in the entire Class of 2008) are little buddies. They walk together and get trained together. He was the best follower in his group of six chicks. But it didn't last! On July 15 Barb wrote, "Our little #829, who used to be fine with other birds, has turned into a cranky little bird too."

Because chick #829 kept being too aggressive, he was given his own pen. Barb said, "#829 is our most dominant chick. Although he himself does not start the trouble. It is those other three hopefuls, #827, #828 and #824, who keep challenging his dominance and make him cranky and provoke his anger. If they would just let it go and let him be the top dog (bird) things could be so easy for them." He was paired with 830 for training and they get along great, with #829 the best follower of the group.

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. Pilot Brooke says Chick #829 is the “King” who refuses to be voted off the island and reigns supreme over his bird world. He is so aggressive that the team was too worried to leave him with the other chicks unless an adult was present. On Aug. 3 after training, they took a chance and finally left 829, unattended by a costumed human, with the rest of the cohort all day and all night. "He earned our trust and justified our faith in him by being a model crane," reported Brooke. Will it last?

By August 4, Brooke reported that #829 is the “King” who refuses to be voted off the island and reigns supreme over his bird world. On Aug. 7 when the trike came to get the chicks for training, #829 was lying down resting in the pen. The other five chicks charged out of the gate. While the other chicks followed the trike to the end of the runway, Bev coaxed #829 out of the pen. He finally came down to the end of the runway and joined the group as they continued training.

During training on August 27, "king" #829 tried to take on adults #313 and #318 when they showed up on the runway. He quickly found out that birds a foot taller are indeed tougher! They flattened him on the runway. As quick as he was down, he was back up for another round. Bev (in costume) went running out of the pen to defend her "baby." Brooke tried to chase off one of the adults with the trike, and Bev ran after the other one. Meanwhile, 829 seemed to feel bummed out by the whole scene. Bev said, "I could have sworn he was pouting." But it didn't last long. Training continued with #829 soon running and flapping enthusiastically, as if nothing had happened! He weighed 5.0 kg at his pre-migration health check.

#829 in October in Wisconsin
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

#829 and the others were put inside their travel pen the night before migration began.

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

First Migration South: Chick #829 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 #829 below.

November 21, Day 36: Crane #829 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

November 27, Day 42: He flew all 108 miles without leaving Joe's wing!

He and the other birds relax after landing in Union County, Kentucky on Nov. 27.

Photo Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration

Dec. 8, Day 53: This is #829 and #819 in a stand-off during the exercise session on this no-fly day.


Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

January 9, Day 74: After being grounded for 9 days in a row, #829 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: #829's adult markings were quickly filling in. Notice his red skin patch emerging on his head? His black "moustache" is actually very tiny black feathers, which will continue to grow in until completely black. He is one of the youngest members of his class.

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. While 813 soon left the group, 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 the other five cranes remained together in the area at least until April 7. (See photo) On April 16, crane #829 and his 4 remaining buddies arrived back at Wisconsin's Necedah NWR. Migration complete!

April 15 in Illinois!
Photo Operation Migration
Fall 2009: Male 829 separated from his buddy 819 and left their area on Necedah NWR around September 25, and sometime in the next three days #819 was killed. Coyote tracks were found in the area. Crane 829 began migration November 15, the same day as 9 other Whooping cranes left the refuge. Amazingly, #829 landed at the same Winnebago County, Illinois location as two other pairs of whoopers, each of whom had left from different locations! By Dec. 16 #829 had arrived in Florida with #712. The two were seen together in Alachua County, Florida. Crane #829 remained there with the Sandhill cranes.
Spring 2010: Male #829 began migration from Florida between March 5 and March 13. He and male #713 were reported together in Jackson County, Indiana, on March 15-17. His signal was heard at Necedah by Eva on April 11.

Fall 2010: On Nov. 23 he began migration with #827. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, on that evening and remained in that area until continuing migration on November 27. They were reported in Santa Rosa County, Florida on December 16 through at least Dec. 31.

Spring 2011: Crane 29-08 was seen with four cranes from the Class of 2009 SE of Tallahassee on a survey flight March 11.

Fall 2011: Migrated and wintered in Knox County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Crane #29-08 (with #9-08) was reported back on Wisconsin's Necedah NWR on March 11, migration complete!

Fall 2012: No news.

Spring 2013: Crane #29-08 (with #W3-10) completed migration by or on April 3. Soon another male, 804 (4-08) tried to steal away female W3-10. Tracker Eva didn't think 4-08 and W3-10 would stay together, but is watching to see.

Fall 2013: Male #29-08 and mate #W3-10 migrated to Greene County, Indiana, and later moved to knox County, IN, where they were last reported on February 2. Here they are in Daviess County, IN on Feb. 12, 2014—photographed by ICF tracker Eva on her aerial tracking flight.

Cranes #29-08 and W3-10 in Daviess County, Indiana on Feb. 12, 2014

Spring 2013: It was assumed that #29-08 (whose transmitter doesn't work) was with his mate W3-10 when she was detected back at Necedah NWR on April 5.

Fall 2014: By November 23 pair #29-08 and #W3-10 had migrated south to Knox County, Indiana, where they joined cranes #7-12, #3-11, #24-13 and #38-09 DAR.

Spring 2015: Male #29-08 and his mate W3-10 successfully migrated back to Wisconsin. They nested and the second nest hatched two chicks—the first second-generation wild-hatched Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock! (W3-10 is herself wild-hatched.) It's a milestone for the new flock, but unfortunately, this pair's chicks did not survive to fledge.

Fall 2015: Male #29-08 migrated to Knox County, Indiana, and spent the winter with #19-14.

Spring 2016: Lone male #29-08 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin and was associating in with an unidentified female.

Fall 2016: Male #29-08 was associating with female #6-15 in Juneau Co, WI as November began in an unusually mild autumn. They migrated to Greene County, Indiana by December.

Spring 2017: Still alone, #29-08 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, where he remains. (For a short time he was with #6-15 near New Lisbon, WI.)


Last updated: 6/4/17
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