Crane # 915 (#15-09)

Date Hatched

May 16, 2009



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC)

Leg Bands

(Original colors were replaced by new ones.)

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 23 trainers Barb and Bev watched 915 on a remote camera as she put herself to bed. "She was still motoring around her pen, taking a couple of drinks from her water jug, frustrating Barb and I that she wouldn’t settle down. And just like the toddler she is, after one last drink, she walked under her brood model (adult crane model) and flopped to a lying position. She fought a valiant battle against the sandman, but soon she could no longer keep her eyes open and her head was on the ground. After a couple of nods, she was off to dreamland."

During training sessions at Patuxent, little 915 and 916 seem to always be in tune and totally at ease with each another.

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
She was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #2 chicks on July 2. Chick 915 and all the others settled into their new pen just fine! The next day they trained with the trike on the grassy runway (with their old pal, Robo-crane). The chicks run, hop and flap but cannot yet fly. 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. Chick #915 is a good flock member.
Bev reported on August 10 that the mid-aged birds (Cohort 2, at the West site) are the most independent group. This is obvious during training, and at the evening roost check, when the handlers stand in the pen for several moments before they lazily wander over—and 915 is always first to enter the dry pen where the handlers give each chick a good look to be sure everything's okay. July training in Wisconsin
Photo Operation Migration
To Geoff, #915 seems like the "good egg" of the bunch. She's the first out the gate to fly with the ultralight, the first to come get her meds. She really likes the costume.

First Migration South: Chick #915 left Necedah NWR for her first migration on October 16, 2009. She 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 #915 below.

Oct. 27: She didn't do as well today, and turned back instead of following the ultralight to Stopover #2. She and several others had to reach Stopover #2 in a crate, traveling by road.

Nov. 1: Hooray! 915 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane 915 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 915 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 #908, #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 the 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 she had been with all summer and a few others. She and #908, 911, 918, 925, and 929 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 925 and 929) were found in Leon County, FL during a survey flight on January 13. They were not found in a search of the area by ground on February 9.

Spring 2011: Crane #15-09 (#915)) was detected SE of Tallahassee, FL, during a survey flight on March. 11. She was then with #908, #918, #911 and male #829.

Fall 2011: Cranes #15-09 (#915), #11-09 ((#911), and DAR birds 34-09, 38-09 and 27-10 were reported in Marshall County, IL on December 8, and signals from #15-09 and #11-09 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.

Spring 2012: Cranes #915 (#15-09) and #911 (#11-09) had completed migration to central Wisconsin by March 20. These 3-year-olds built a nest and began incubatin 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!

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

Fall 2012: Cranes #15-09 and #11-09 arrived 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 aday 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 #15-09/#11-09 were seen dancing on March 7 by the landowner on whose "cow pond" 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: She was captured and given a new transmitter/colors on the right leg before migration. She and mate #11-09 safely migrated once again to their wintering territory on a pasture with a pond near Tallahassee, Florida, finally arriving on January 3, 2015. "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 female #15-09.

Crane pair #11-09 and #15-09 on January 3, 2015 in Florida

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 FloridaPhoto Karen Willis

Spring 2015: Pair #15-09 and #11-09 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, but the chick did not survive. Unfortunately, pair #15-09 and #11-09 split and ended the summer apart.

W2-15 with a parent

Fall 2015: Female #15-09, who had split from her mate by summer's end, was seen before migration November 2 when Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan spotted her on Necedah NWR along with cranes #11-02 and #19-10.

Spring 2016: Female #15-09 was observed by Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan, back on a Necedah territory with male #11-02. The pair nested and hatched chicks on May 27 and May 29. One chick (W12-16) survived until early July. The father (#11-02) disappeared by July 13 and his carcass was discovered in August. By then, female #15-09 had paired again with #11=-09, her mate previous to #11-02. Like her mate, she did not survive the summer either.

Fall 2016: The remains of female 15-09 were found on September 7th at Necedah NWR. Cause of death remains undetermined.

Last updated: 10/14/16

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