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

Crane # 911 (#11-09)

Date Hatched

May 11, 2009



Egg Source

Calgary Zoo, Canada

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.

Notes from the captive breeding "hatchery" at Patuxent WRC in Maryland:

The first time a few of the chicks were together outside, 911 did nothing but cry (peep loudly) for the entire time! But he got better.

On June 6 intern Trish, with puppet, was helping experienced trainer Barb Clauss with 910 and 911. Barb left the novice to take the chicks back to their pens. Little 911 decided to stop in a drying mud puddle to forage for worms when he spotted a moth. He chased after it, darting high and low and missing the moth each time. After the moth flew away, the "puppet" managed to get 911's attention again and got him moving through the gates of the pens. Chick 910 stayed near Trish/puppet, trilling and pecking at the worms while he waited. But not 911! He turned around and started running full speed in the opposite direction! Luckily Barb eventually came to the rescue, which is when "911 behaved like an angel," said Trish!

He was soon paired with 910 for socializing and soon they were spending days and nights together, doing just fine in the pond, grass and pen. These two will be part of Cohort One, the oldest and the first group of birds to be shipped to Wisconsin for flight school before migration in October.

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

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
Male #911 was transported to Wisconsin with the other oldest chicks (Cohort One) on June 25. He adjusted well to his new home and was ready for flight school right away. He made quick progress in flapping, hopping, striding and running alongside the ultralight, and 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. The pilots are pleased with 911's progress and cooperation.

On Sep. 26 he refused to stay with the ultralight when his cohort was led over to the site where the other birds have been together since Sep. 5. Finally, four days later (Sep. 30), pilot Chris was successful in leading #911 and #903 over to complete the move. All the Class of 2009 is together at one pen site. That same day, he flew again during a training session with his cohort One mates.

Nov 20: Crane 911 was one of the 16 who flew off on this exercise day and didn't come back! The 16 flew more than 15 miles before Richard located and caught up to them. He then turned them on courseand led them to safe landing at the next planned stopover. Until today, this has never happened since the pilots began leading whoopers south in 2001.

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

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Eight of the St. Marks juveniles left at mid-day March 24 on their first journey north! According to a PTT reading from #908, she (and probably #915 #910, #911, #914, #918, #925 and #926) reached Shelby County, Alabama— about 260 miles from the pen! Their next flight took them an additional 380 miles to Monroe County, IN, where an observer photo confirmed that they were all still together. As of March 29 they had flown another 73 miles to Fountain County, IN, roughly 70 miles due east of the Piatt Co., IL stopover used during their ultralight-guided journey south last fall. Tracker Eva said a PTT reading for #915 on March 31 put them in Monroe County, Wisconsin. On April 1 Sara picked up their signals in the Necedah area. They successfully completed migration!" HOORAY!!!!!

Fall 2010: Remained on Horicon NWR in Dodge County, Wisconsin at least through October 15 along with the cranes he had been with all summer and a few others. He and cohort mates 8, 15, 18, 25 and 29 returned to the St. Marks NWR release site from an undetermined location on the morning of December 29 when the five chicks in the Class of 2010 had already been there for several days. They continued to return to the pen site periodically but the "costumes" always drove them away. The group (except for 25 and 29) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13.

Spring 2011: Crane #11-09 was detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. He was then with cohort mates 8, 18, 15 and male 29-08 (formerly #829); all successfuily migrated north to central Wisconsin for summer.

Pair 911 and 915 in Florida Nov. 26, 2012
#11 and #15-09 in Florida Photo Lou Kellenberger

Fall 2011: Cranes #11-09 ((#911)) and #15-09 (#915), and DAR birds 34-09, 38-09 and 27-10 were reported in Marshall County, IL on December 8, and signals from #11-09 and #15-09 were detected at St. Marks NWR in Florida on January 2 and 3. They wandered and found a good territory near Tallahassee in a pasture with a herd of cows, and stayed for the next two months, until spring migration.

Spring 2012: Cranes #11-09 ((#911)) and #15-09 (#915) completed migration to central Wisconsin by March 20. These 3-year-olds built a nest and began incubating one egg on April 27. Unfortunated, the eggs disappeared by May 6, likely due to predation. This is not surprising for such young and inexperienced parents, so we wish them better luck next spring with more experience behind them!

Fall 2012: Cranes 11-09 (#911) and 15-09 (#915) arrived back at their Leon County, Florida winter home on November 26. The pair makes their territory on private property there. Each evening they arrive to spend the night and every morning they depart for a day of foraging. Before leaving on their day's adventures, they often chase either the cows or the Canada geese that share their winter territory.

Spring 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 began migration March 22 and arrived back in central Wisconsin on April 3. They soon had a nest together but they abandoned the nest in early May, apparently in response to the hatch of black flies in late April. Their eggs were collected, hatched in incubators, and the young cranes were used in release experiments at sites in eastern Wisconsin where there are fewer black flies. The pair did not nest again this summer.

Fall 2013: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 safely migrated to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida. They dropped in at the St. Marks pen site in February!

Spring 2014 :
Pair #11-09/#15-09 were seen dancing on March 7 by the landowner on whose "cowpond" they've spent the past three winters. The next day they were no longer there. They were confirmed back at Necedah NWR on April 1 and soon were nesting. The pair hatched chick W8-14 in May! The status was uncertain as of the May 29 aerial survey flight, as the pair and their chick could not be located. (Neither adult has a working transmitter.)

Fall 2014: Cranes #11-09 and #15-09 safely migrated once again to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida, finally arriving on January 3, 2015 after being in Indian so long that it looked like they'd stay there. "Better late than never," exclaimed the delighted landowner where the crane pair winters. "So VERY happy that our 2 Whooping Cranes have FINALLY returned to their Cow Pond." On the left is male #11-09, strutting his stuff for his mate #15-09.

Cranes 11-09 ad mate #11o-15 on arrival at Florida wintering grounds.

The pair wandered a bit on some night and, surprisingly, were tracked on some nights to a different roosting spot than usual.

Pair #11-09 and#15-09 in Florida
Photo Karen Willis

Spring 2015 : Pair #11-09/#15-09 appear to have sarted their journey north on the same day as they began it last spring! They failed to return the evening of March 7th and returned safely to their Wisconsin nesting grounds. By mid May, and again May 22, they were observed tending to their new chick, W2-15. The chick did not survive. Unfortunately, pair #11-09 and #15-09 separated in late summer.

W2-15 with a parent

Fall 2015 : Male #11-09, who split with his long-time mate #15-09 in late summer, migrated south and finally arrived at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day on the winter territory near Tallahassee where he and his former mate spent winter since 2010. He was alone:

Male #11-09 on his winter territory, December 25, 2015


Spring 2016: Male #11-09, who split with his previous mate before fall migration last year, returned to Wisconsin and found a new mate by June. He and parent-reared (PR) #20-14 are a pair now.

Fall 2016: No news. The last sighting of #11-09 was August 1, 2016 in Juneau County.

Spring 2017: No news, no sighting.

Last updated: 6/9/17

Back to "Meet the Flock 2009"