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

Crane # 919 (#19-09)

Date Hatched

May 26, 2009



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC)

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:

For the first days after he hatched, 919 would cry and peep every time the costume/trainer left his pen. Sometimes his peeping was so loud you could hear it from the next room. If the chick heard footsteps in the aisle, the cries got louder. “Don’t leave me alone! Stop in for a visit!” And when the costume/trainer walks in his pen, his happy trills start: “You came back! I’m so happy to see you!"

He had his introduction on June 1 and when Bev turned on the vocalizer, which is much louder than the pocket ones the trainers carry, he walked right up to it looking for “mama.” That's when Bev predicted that 919 wouldn’t even flinch when the trike's engine started the next day. She was right! They got him to follow very shortly after starting the engine. "He seemed to like it so much that he calmly walked around pecking at meal worms and gravel and even trilling occasionally. He will be a great follower in the air," said Bev. "We can always tell the chicks that will be the best followers by how they react that very first time."

Bev calls 919 (and 918) little stinkers, but male 919 quickly learned not to mess with the "queen" (914)! That would change, however, as he continued to grow into one of the two biggest and strongest birds in the flock.

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 919 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. Handlers soon saw that Cohort 2 birds were the most independent group. It was obvious during training, and at the evening roost check, when the handlers stand in the pen for several moments before the birds lazily wandered over to the dry pen, where the handlers nightly inspect each chick by looking at its eyes, beak, legs, toes and feathers. Male 919 kept getting bigger and stronger that any of the other birds.

After cohorts 2 and 3 were joined, chick #919 and 924 (also a huge bird) often fought for dominance. Both are big, strong males who pecked each other in the face and tried to stomp each other to the ground. Niether wanted to give an inch in their fight for dominance. One September day after training, they had a "time out." The costumes walked them up and down the training strip and tried to break up any tiffs. The two "enemies" did okay that day, but they will be closely watched and kept apart when in the pen with the others at night unitl they decide which one is boss. Even though #919 is older, the handler see signs that he may be backing down slightly to the younger #924, but the battle is still not decided.

Oct. 11: The team hoped to combine training with a flight to a remote part of the refuge where a travel pen was set up. The birds would be closer to their first migration stopover. But the birds had other plans! Only six followed the ultralights over and the others, including 919, wouldnt follow and ended up in various places. After Joe landed cranes 919 and 903, the two were crated up and driven in the tracking van to the travel pen where the team wanted the flock tonight. But only nine of the Class of 2009 made it today, and the others finally got rounded up and are back at their old pen for another day.

First Migration South: Chick #919 (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 #919 below.

Oct. 27: Today chick 919 did MUCH better. He was a great follower and flew to Stopover #2 with six flockmates and Richard's ultralight. This photo was captured from the CraneCam soon after arrival of the seven "leaders."

Nov. 1: Hooray! 919 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!

Nov 20: Crane 919 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 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the "Chass 10:" #901, 903, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919, 924, 927, and 929! Male 919 flew all but 4 miles of this migration!
Eva Szyszkoski, ICF, took these photos of #919 at Chass during the winter. He is losing some of his head feathers and showing more of the red patch that will probably be fully developed this summer. At right he is dancing and playing!

March 13: The nine remaining chicks at Chass (#903 disappeared) with adult pair #105 and #501were beginning to show signs of migration restlessness. Eva said, "It was a windy night and they continued to fly around, land, fly around, land, fly around, land…well, you get the picture. This is typical behavior for the chicks before they decide to head back north. Although it would be a little on the early side for them to be leaving this week, we are not sure if the adult pair will entice the chicks to leave earlier than they would otherwise."

Spring 2010, First Journey North: The "Chass 9" crane kids (901, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919, 924, 927 and 929) began migration on April 5 at 10:00 a.m. With them were subadults 824, 827 and 830. While they did not remain in one group for the whole flight, they ended up landing together in Grady County, Georgia around 6:00 p.m. The Chass group, now minus #907, who took off on her own in the early morning of April 6, continued migration and roosted the night of April 6 in Jackson County, Alabama. This was just 10 miles from the Tennessee border, and 285 miles from their previous stop. On April 7 they flew 250 miles to Orange County, Indiana where they dropped out early because of deteriorating weather conditions. The group of 11 continued migration to Porter County, Indiana (southeast of Chicago), on April 9. Here they split into two groups. Both groups continued migration the next day (April 10) and the group of three (#913, 919 and 927) was tracked to Waukesha County, Wisconsin where they dropped out early, likely because the very strong winds from the west made it extremely difficult for them to keep going west. Cranes #919 and #913 were detected in flight over the core reintroduction area in Wisconsin on May 16. They were next reported in Ransom County, North Dakota, on May 22 and 25. No subsequent confirmed reports.

Fall 2010: Cranes #919 and #913 were seen in Madison County, Illinois. They were last reported flying over Chassahowitzka NWR pensite in Florida on December 2.

Spring 2011: He began migration from Lake County, Florida on April 3.

Fall 2011: Crane #919 migrated to Alabama's Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and spent winter there along with two of the DAR youngsters in the Class of 2011.

Spring 2012: Began migration Feb. 26 about 9:30 a.m. from Alabama's Wheeler NWR with a flock of about 60 Sandhills and the two DAR youngsters (#15 and #18) from the Class of 2011. He apparently stayed with the two youngsters until they were all safely back on Necedah NWR on March 14 and then parted with them. He began hanging out with male #25-10) by mid May. These two males stayed on and near Necedah NWR throughout the summer.

Fall 2012: Males #919 (#19-09) and DAR #25-10 were reported on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin on October 25 and apparently began migration from this location. On Nov. 21 they were discovered in Gibson County, Indiana, where they remained throughout the winter. Also present there were pairs #512/#722 and #216/716.

Spring 2013: Males #25-10 and #19-09 began spring migration from their wintering location in Gibson County, Indiana, between April 1 and 3 and were not yet documented back on Necedah NWR as of April 5.

Fall 2013: Male #19-09 migrated to Gibson County, Indiana, where he was last reported January 31, 2013.

Spring 2014: Male #19-09 was confirmed back at Necedah on 2 April. He was observed with parent-reared (PR) male #22-13.

Fall 2014: Male #19-09 wintered again in Gibson County, Indiana, where he was photographed in December with #25-10 DAR and new pair #12-09/#14-09.

Spring 2015: Male #19-09 and male #25-10 DAR were first reported at Necedah NWR on March 31. They spent the spring and summer there.

Fall 2015: Pals #19-09 and #25-10 DAR migrated to their wintering grounds in Lawrence County, Illinois, on Nov. 23.

Male 19-09's beuatiful red crown
Photo John Pohl

Spring 2016: Males and #19-09 #25-10 DAR migrated back to Wisconsin in April and again spent the spring and summer at Necedah NWR.

Fall 2016: In November, crane #19-09 was reported on his wintering grounds iin Knox County, Indiana, along with his male buddy #25-10 DAR.

19-09 and 25-10 in Gibson County, Indiana
Photo John Pohl

Spring 2017: Male #19-09 was back in Juneau County, WI for summer, still with his buddy #25-10.

Last updated: 6/5/17

Back to "Meet the Flock 2009"


Photo John Pohl