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

Crane # 927

Date Hatched

June 5, 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:

Little 927 was introduced to the trike engine for the first time on June 12. He was so afraid of being in the circle pen that the "costumes" Bev and Brooke) just let him eat meal worms while hearing the comforting brood call over the loudspeaker on the trike. Brooke spun the propeller and pushed the trike back and forth — but just these small movements sent 927 peeping like a baby! They settled with just walking him around the pen.

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 and 927 did beautifully. All of the chicks followed the trike and paid no attention to one another. In the coming days, 927 always came out of the pen, followed the ultralight eagerly, and gobbled up treats when they reached the end of the runway. These youngest birds weren't flying yet but the end of July, but making progress. Go, Cohort 3!

By mid August, all of cohort 3, with the exception of 931, were starting to fly in ground effect. The team noticed that #927 had a swollen hock (leg joint), but it seemed to get better as the days passed. The cohort was flying brief, short circles in the air over the training field. This chick picked on #929 in the early part of the summer. That tapered off as they learned to fly better and better. The weather allowed training almost every day, so these youngest chicks will be ready for migration.

Each day they get de-worming medicine in a grape given to them by the puppet. Chick #927 is one of the birds who takes off for the swamp to wash that grape before eating it. The handlers have to watch closely to be sure he gets his meds. The capsule floats if it falls out of the grape, and the puppet is quick to play with the capsule until the chick gets curious and grabs it to swallow.

The team worried about #927 getting picked on when the middle and youngest cohorts spent their first night together without a fence dividing them, but he did just fine!

First Migration South: Chick #927 (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 #927 below.
Oct. 17: Chick #927 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, #927! Pilot Joe Duff took this photo of Richard and the four:

Oct. 27: On today's flight crane 914 (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! 927 (and ALL the others!) flew the distance to Stopover #3. No crates needed! Now we can expect more of this. They are getting stronger and more confident!

Nov. 5: For the third flight in a row, ALL 20 birds made the whole flight today! They are gaining strength and confidence. Bev now says 927 is not the baby, but certainly looks like it. "I always know where he is because he is still mostly brown. Very few white feathers have grown in, and he still looks very baby-like. He is also one of the quiet ones. Rarely do we hear him peep. He goes about his daily business quietly, almost shyly."

Nov. 16: From her post at the CraneCam, Heather saw this little story take place in the pen one morning on a down-day. She's not sure, but she thinks the main character might have been 927: "He was on a mission. Twice within a half hour, he approached another crane from behind and very casually waited till just the right moment. As soon as the other crane bent over to peck, poke or prod at something, he would very cautiously lean toward the target tush and strike! I couldn’t help but chuckle as he proceeded to prance oh so proudly away with a tail feather held valiantly in his beak."

Nov 20: Crane 927 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 course and 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 927 was one of the three birds who flew loyally but then dropped out when he got too frustrated in rough winds to finish. He finished the trip to Stopver #9 traveling by road in a crate.

January 3: (Day 72) Today's rough climb to get up to smoother air was too much for #927 and he dropped out. Trackers found him and boxed him up for the drive back to the pen after the rest of the flock turned back with the pilot.

New leg bands!
Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

January 20, 2010, Day 89: Migration complete for the "Chass 10:" #901, 903, 904, 905, 907, 913, 919, 924, 927, and 929! Male 927 flew all but 26 miles of this migration.

Winter at Chass NWR: Sara explains why you must pay close attention to 927's leg bands. Both 927 and 903 have RGR 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 927's RGR 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 then 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. He has not been detected since then.

Spring 2011: Crane #927 was considered to have died after not being detected for over a year. He was removed from the official population in spring 2011.

Last updated: 5/11/11


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