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

Crane # 924 (#24-09)

Date Hatched

May 28, 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:

Bev reports, "#924 is a little terror. He is the aggressor of cohort three. He keeps the other chicks in line with an occassional peck, but doesn't chase after anyone. He just gives a peck if his space is invaded. He is a good follower."

Arrival in Wisconsin
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration

Notes of Flight School in Wisconsin:
He was flown to Wisconsin with Cohort #3 chicks on July 10. Their first training session as a group was July 15. They did beautifully. All of them followed the trike and paid no attention to anyone else. Chick 922 is the dominant bird but 924 is so mad about it that he pecks any and all the other chicks.

When Richard trained Cohort 3 near the end of July, 924 (and all but one of the other 7 chicks) came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats upon reaching the end of the runway. They weren't flying yet, but making progress. Go, Cohort 3!

By mid August 924 was starting to fly in ground effect. By the end of August he was flying well. One day after his cohort had already trained, he was back in the pen while the two youngest were getting some extra training with the ultralight. Pilot Richard was surprised when #924 escaped from the pen and flew around in the air, showing off his flight skills. He is dominant and in control. He even tried to assert his dominance over pilot Richard, who is six feel tall!

#924 (green band) runs behind the ultralight on the verge of getting airborne!

On August 24, Chris flew the cohort 3 chicks on the longest flight of their young lives. As he made a turn behind some trees, one bird was flying very low, struggling to remain airborne. The chick couldn't keep up and disappeared behind the dike west of the pen. Soon the whole team was on a chick hunt. They played the crane call on their vocalizers. They waded through knee-deep water and bushwacked through tall grass. Two trikes circled overhead with pilots searching from the air. Finally the missing chick appeared walking back towards the grass runway. It was 924! He was happy to be found but really tired.

After cohorts 2 and 3 were joined, chick #924 and 919, both huge and dominant birds, often fought. 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. It is important that these two work out their dominance struggles before the addition of Cohort 1 to make the flock one large group before migration.

First Migration South: Chick #924 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 #924 below.

Oct. 27: On today's flight crane 924 didn't follow so well, but neither did several others. He turned back to old Stopover #1 and had to be boxed and driven to Stopover #2.

Nov. 1: Hooray! 924 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed!
Nov. 20: Crane 924 was one of ony 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.

Nov 30: Crane 924 flew loyally in rough winds but later dropped out when he got too frustrated or tired to finish. Joe found him and 924 completed the last few miles to Stopver #9 flying by Joe's wing.

January 20, 2010, Day 89:
Migration complete for the "Chass 10:" #901, 903, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919, 924, 927, and 929! Male 924 flew all but 18 miles of this migration!
Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to 924's leg bands. Both 924 and 901 have WGR bands, BUT the transmitter and bands are on opposite legs, making each bird's code a unique and separate banding code. On which leg are 924's WGR bands?

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 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 a group of eight (#824, 827 and 830, 901, 904, 905, 924 and 929) and a group of three (#913, 919 and 927). Both groups continued migration the next day (April 10), when the group of eight made it home. Their signals were detected the next day, April 11, on Necedah NWR: migration complete!

Fall 2010: Crane 924 (hereafter known as #24-09, per WCEP naming conventions) is likely still with 912 (hereafter 12-09) and 41-09 DAR, whose signals were detected by the Homosassa Springs (Florida) WSP datalogger on December 5.

Spring 2011: "We don't know where in Florida they wintered," reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #24-09 (#924), $12-09 (912) and 41-09 DAR stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn't leave until 20 March. They all migrated back to Wisconsin. Cranes #24-09 and #12-09 were confirmed in Monroe County, WI on April 1.

Fall 2011: Crane #24-09 (#924) with mate 42-09 DAR and pair #33-07 (733) and #5-09 (#905) began migration between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2. They were found in Vigo County, Indiana, during a tracking flight on Dec. 3. They showed up in Hopkins County, Kentucky at the end of January, whee they were hanging out with with cranes 2-04 (#402) and 46-07 DAR.

Spring 2012: Pair #24-09 and 42-09 DAR — with pair #5-09 (905) and #33-07 (733 )— completed migration back to their usual summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin by March 12 or 13. They built their first nest, began incubating April 4 and successfully hatched two chicks (#W2-12 and W3-12) on May 7 and 8. Sadly, both chicks were lost to them by May 16.

Parent with new chicks W2-12 and W3-12 on May 8, 2012
Photo: Eva Szyszkoski/ICF, with aerial support from Lighthawk

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Pair #24-09 and mate 42-09 DAR completed spring migration by March 24 an were on territory but without a nest during a mid April aerial survey. By late April or early May they were reported nesting. Like all but one of this season's first nests, this pair's first nest failed. They were reported with a second nest and two eggs, but this nest failed shortly after the June 4 survey flight. On June 5 Eva reported both cranes were off the nest and both eggs were gone; they hatched no chicks this summer.

Fall 2013: Male #24-09 wintered in the area of Hopkins County, Kentucky with mate #42-09 DAR and several other cranes in the Eastern Migratory Flock. ICF tracker Eva took this photo on February 12, 2014:

Wintering adult whoopers (with  one parent-reared chick) in Hopkins County, Kentucky

Spring 2014: Crane #24-09 with 42-09 DAR and pair #34-09 DAR and 1-10 began migration from their wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 22-24 March. They arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois, by roost on 26 March and completed migration to Wisconsin on 29/30 March. Male #42-09 #24-09 nested with #42-09 in Adams County and on May 13 tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed that the pair hatched chicks W4-14 and W5-14!

Chick w1_14 with parents #42-09 and #24-09, May 13Photo Eva Szyszkoski/ICF

Fall 2014: Adult pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR migrated to Hopkins County, Kentucky by Nov. 21, where they associated with several other Whooping Cranes at that wintering location.

Spring 2015: Male 24-09 returned to Adams County, Wisconsin with mate #42-09 DAR and nested, but their nest failed; no chicks for this pair this spring.

Fall 2015: Crane #24-09 and his mate #42-09 DAR wintered in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

Spring 2016: Crane pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR returned north and nested in April. The first nest failed but they nested again in early June and hatched W23-16 on June 28. This June photo shows him guarding after she settles down on the nest to incubate an egg. Unfortunately, their chick did not survive long.

Male 24-09 (right) with his nesting mate in April 2016

Fall 2016: It was hoped pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR would become alloparents to two parent-reared colts released near them in Adams County in September, and would lead the young on migration. Unfortunately, the adult pair did not stay around long. Then, on Nov. 15 after a 20-day absence, male #24-09 and his mate finally reappeared to spend time with the young PR #29-16 and PR #39-16, arriving just as the weather turned snowy and windy. They succeeded in getting the colts to roost in the wetland a few nights, but not in following south. It appears that the adults may have left on migration Nov. 20. They were reported in Hopkins County, Kentucky, in December.
Pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR with young PR colts #29 and #39-16 as the weather turned snowy and windy in Wisconsin
Photo Colleen Chase

Spring 2017: Crane pair #24-09 and #42-09 DAR had returned north and were nesting by early April. Their chick, W3-17, hatched about May 4th! The chick was still doing well with the parents when spotted from the air on May 25.

Pair #42-09 and #24-09 with new chick W3-17
Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR pilot

Here's W3-17 at about 30 days of age, out foraging with Dad the first week in June, 2017:

W3 at 30 days, out foraging with dad 24-09 of age, with Brooke Pennypacker, Operation Migration

The parents and chick W3-17 were still doing well when spotted from the air on June 15. Chick W3-17 was still alive as of July 18th, 2017.


Last updated: 7/18/17


Back to "Meet the Flock 2009"