Meet the 2009 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2009 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 906 (#6-09)

Date Hatched

May 6, 2009



Egg Source

Necedah NWR (egg from abandoned first nest of #309 & #403)

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

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.

Personality, Early Training
Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:

On May 29, Bev was getting 905 and 906 out of their pens to meet a few other chicks in the field behind the building. Little 906 did not want to come through the gate! Bev was already through the gate with 905 and all the other birds were backtracking to come see what I was doing. They all waited while 906 paced at the gate. He would not come through. Nothing I did would get him to cross this threatening threshold. Finally I put the robo-crane puppet right under his nose and inch by inch, slowly, got him to cross the gate. Once across, and when we finally started walking, the birds went into high gear running everywhere, bumping into each other, running enthusiastic zig-zag patterns, jumping, leaping. The "costumes" watched and learned more about each chick. They began to learn that "906 is, always has been, and probably always will be a scaredy-cat. He shies at everything and everyone."

Cohort 1 FLYING Aug. 17 Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin: He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort One chicks on June 25. When they were finally led into their new pen, the tired 906 took a nap. After waking, most of the chicks pecked at their new leg bands or even investigated the bands of other chicks, but all was peaceful in the new pen! He paid good attentions during training sessions and, like all the chicks in cohort one, he was flying by July 20. By early August cohort one was flying circles over the training areas. By mid-August they were flying larger and longer circuits. He knows just what to do.


First Migration South: Chick #906 left Necedah NWR for his first migration on October 16, 2009. He was one of only five in the Class of 2009 to behave and follow the ultralights to the migration's first stopover site! Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #906 below.

Oct. 27: Crane 906 didn't do as well on the second leg. He (and several others) turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! 906 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!
Nov. 20: Crane 906 was one of only four chicks who obediently came back when called on exercise day. The other 16 took off and didn't come back! The next day, the obedient four followed the ultralight to join their flock mates at Stopover #7.

Dec. 4: Pilot Brook watched the "906 Show" as this leader flew afoot or two to Brooke's right, then his left, then just ahead, obviously playing the "Who’s Leading Who?" game.

January 7: He still wants to lead! Crane 904 led most of the first leg on this double-leg day before 906 took over. But 906 kept diving below the wing, and leading the rest of the birds with him. Pilot Richard thought 905 disliked this behavior, as it made the birds at the back of the line work harder, and she came from behind and butted in from to take the lead away from 906.

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the "St. Marks 10:" #906, 908, 910, 911, 912, 914, 915, 918, 925, and 926! Crane 906 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Dawdlers #906 (6-09) and #912 )12-09) finally left Florida’s St. Marks NWR on April 14 to start their northward migration—22 days after their eight pen-mates had departed. Matt said, "The weather was not favorable for migration. As I started tracking their flight, I found that strong east winds blew the birds far to the west. In fact, although only 40 miles due south of the Georgia border, these two would not fly into Georgia airspace. Instead, they would be blown over 50 miles west into Alabama." They settled for the night in Chilton County, Alabama, 235 miles from St. Marks NWR. The two were spotted flying over through Vermilion County, IL on the morning of April 18th. "They should be back up here soon", said Eva from the Necedah area, "but we haven't heard them yet." She was right: She picked up their signals on April 21 as they flew over the Necedah NWR! MIGRATION COMPLETE. But they didn't stay! Matt Strausser, ICF Tracking Intern, then followed the birds for another five hours. The birds crossed out of Wisconsin and into Iowa, where they landed to roost in a wetland in Allamakee County, Iowa. No checks or reports since then.

Fall 2010: Migrated and wintered in Hamilton County, Tennessee with #506 (#6-05) and #38-09 (DAR).

Spring 2011: The group #906, #506 and #38-09 (DAR) left Hamilton County, TN sometime between Feb. 25 and 27. They were reported back in the Necedah NWR area by March 21.

Fall 2011: Male #6-09 wintered in Greene County, Indiana with #35-09 (DAR).

Spring 2012: He was detected in flight headed north over ICF headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin on March 15 with female 35-09 (DAR). Close to home!

Fall/Winter 2012- 2013: Wintered in Green County, Indiana.

Spring 2013: If bands were reported correctly, Crane #906 (#6-09) was among three adult whoopers reported March 26 in a reclaimed wetland area of an Illinois quarry. "They have been loafing and feeding in the same area of the wetland for at least the last 2 days," reported the observer. Their current location is 4 miles from the Livingston Co., IL stopover site of the ultralight-led migration south for male #6-09. Perhaps he's the leader of this trio's journey north? The birds with him are #27-10 (DAR) and #35-09 (DAR). The three completed migration to Necedah NWR March 29! By late April or early May cranes #35-09 DAR and #6-09 were nesting but they, along with several other nesting crane pairs, abandoned their nest in early May. No chicks for this pair this summer...

Spring 2014: He completed migration back to Necedah NWR by March 21. He is no longer with female #27-10 DAR.

Fall 2014: Migrated with female #23-10 DAR to Greene County, Indiana. The pair made a short trip (less than two weeks) to Wheeler NWR, Alabama,in early January.

Spring 2015: He and his mate #7-12 both died on their summer territory in June. The male's remains were discovered June 30, near where his mate's remains were recovered earlier, and during the time when he was molting and thus vulnerable to predation.

Last updated: 9/9/15
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