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

Crane # 912 (#12-09)

Date Hatched

May 14, 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.

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

Some chicks learn how to eat rapidly, others take awhile. Little 912 and 913, who are siblings, took at least 4 days before they started eating and drinking to the satisfaction of the costumes/trainers. Soon they became robust little birds!

July training in Wisconsin
Photo Operation Migration

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick 912 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grass runway. They are running, hopping and flapping, but not yet flying. However, by the end of July the cohort #2 birds were all flying in ground effect, a few feet off the grassy strip, and close to gaining good altitude.

Bev reported on August 10: The mid-aged birds at the West site are the most independent group. This is obvious during training, and in the evening. At the night roost check, we stand in the pen for several moments before they lazily wander our way. Chick 912 is always the second one (after 915) into the dry pen to see the costume before bedtime. As summer turned to fall, the birds in this middle group became a great flying team. On September 19, most of them flew for an astonishing 53 minutes! Chick 912 is just happy to be in the flock and doesn't create any problems.

First Migration South: Chick #912 (and 14 others!) turned back to Necedah NWR when the Class of 2009 left on their first migration on October 16, 2009. They all had to try again the next day to follow the ultralights to the migration's first stopover site, where five flockmates landed on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #912 below.
Oct. 17: Chick #912 was one of the four who flew with Richard from the old pen at Necedah NWR onward to Stopover #1 to bring the number of chicks there to 11. Go, #912! Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the four.

Oct. 27: On today's flight crane 912 (and several others) didn't follow well. They turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! 912 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane 912 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.

Nov 30: Crane 912 flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. Then Brooke was able to get 912 to fly with him, so he finished the trip to Stopver #9 flying alongside his own private plane!

Photo: Brooke Pennypacker, Operation Migration

January 13, 2010, Day 82: Migration complete for the "St. Marks 10:" #906, 908, 910, 911, 912, 914, 915, 918, 925, and 926! Crane 912 flew all but 18 miles of this migration! In the photo, crane 912 looks for blue crabs during winter at the release pen. Both #912 and 906 stayed behind another 22 days, enjoying the St. Marks release pen by themselves after their classmates had departed on migration.

Spring 2010, First Journey North: Dawdlers #912 and #906 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: The radio signals of crane 912 (12-09) and 41-09 (DAR) were detected at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida) on December 5. Crane #924 (24-09), who has a weak transmitter, is probably still traveling with them. No further news until March 18!

Spring 2011: "We don't know where in Florida they wintered," reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #12-09, 24-09 and 41-09 (DAR) stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn't leave until 20 March. Radio signals of 12-09 and 41-09 (DAR) were detected in flight over Sauk County on March 29, and these birds likely arrived in the Necedah NWR area that day.

Fall 2011: Migrated and spent the winter in Greene County, Indiana.

Spring 2012: Male #12-0 was confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on the evening of March 27th. Eva had detected him in flight through Illinois the day before as she did a 2-day tracking flight to the south.

Spring 2013: Male #12-09 was confirmed back at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin Mar. 30.

Fall 2013: Male #12-09 was likely among seven Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on January 24 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, on January 29. "We assume these are the same birds," said ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski. "Based on band reports they are likely birds 12-09, 12-03/29-09, 18-09/35-09 and 10-09/17-07."

Spring 2014: Male #12-09 had not yet been confirmed at Necedah NWR by April 11 but tracker Eva Syszkoski, but she suspected he may have re-paired again with #27-10, who was detected on the refuge on April 5.

Fall 2014: Male #12-09 is wintering in Indiana with female #14-09, whose previous mate was captured and moved to captivity in Zoo New England in May 2014.
NOTE: Tracking field Manager Eva Szyszkoski hopes that #12-09 might influence #14-09 to change her habits and possibly her final wintering location. If #12-09's influence carries over into spring, this new pair may abandon #14-09's Volk Field territory for #12-09’s previous summering locations just west of the Necedah NWR. The new pair was photographed by tracker Eva in December in Gibson County, IN with #19-09 and #25-10.

Spring 2014: Male #12-09 was seen in Gibson County, Indiana, on June 2.

Fall 2014: Male #12-09 spent fall 2014 on territory in Juneau Co, WI with mate 14-.09 until he was seen in Gibson Co, IN on Nov 20, 2014. He spent the winter there associating with another Whooping Crane pair and another single.

Spring 2015: 12-09 stayed in Gibson Co, IN until he was seen at Necedah NWR on May 4, 2015. By May 25, he had returned to Gibson Co, IN, where he stayed by himself through the summer.

Fall 2015: Male #12-09 was still by himself in Gibson Co, IN through fall and winter 2015.

Spring 2016: By April 22, #12-09 migrated back to his previous territory in Juneau Co, WI and was associating with male 16-12. The two were seen in the area throughout the spring and summer.

Fall 2016: Male #12-09 associated with 16-12 until he was seen on Dec 17, back in Gibson Co, IN by himself. He spent the rest of December 2016 alone in Gibson Co, IN.

Spring 2017: Male #12-09 returned to Juneau County, Wisconsin, for the summer.

Last updated: 6/5/17

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