Meet the Class of 2010 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2010 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 5-10

Date Hatched

May 8, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
  VHF radio

Temporary/migration band: yellow 5

  • 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:

A story about her parents: Chick #5-10 came from an egg laid right at Patuxent WRC. The parents were two Whooping Cranes called the “S35 pair,” a pair that has become one of my favorites. Because many of the captive birds are related, we often have to do “arranged” pairings. We let the two cranes live next door to get to know each other. Then we ‘date’ them, allowing them to share a pen, but under supervision, to make sure they get along. If they seem to like each other, they eventually progress to the point where they live together all the time, unsupervised. The process can last anywhere from a few weeks to over a year! Sometimes the birds don’t hit it off and we start over again, but in this case it worked. They formed a strong pair bond and have been producing chicks for several years. This year, S35 female laid the eggs that later hatched into #5-10, #15-10 and #16-10.

-Jane Chandler, Patuxent WRC

Chick #5-10 tends to be very stubborn and was always a little more challenging for handlers when still a wee chick. Sometimes it took handlers as much as a half hour to get #5-10 to walk onto the scale and stay there long enough to get weighed.
Welcome to Wisconsin!
Photo Geoff Tarbox

Notes from "Flight School" at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin:
Arrived in Wisconsin for flight school with other Cohort #1 chicks on June 30 when she was 53 days old. She will live together with the other Cohort #1 chicks at the North pen until all the chicks of the Class of 2010 are later joined in one large group.

During the training session on June 8 she paid full attention to the ultralight plane "parent," even though two adult whooping cranes joined in the group chasing down the runway with the ultralight. Another day when it was super soggy in the pens after rain storms, she paid no attention to the adults who shoed up when she and other chicks napped on the grass runway because it was the least soggy place around.

"While she is a sweet bird", says Geoff, "I don’t think she’s one of the brightest we’ve ever had. She always seemed a little slower on the uptake than birds her age, and slower to develop. She’s still one of the last birds in or out, and is one of the first birds to drop out. She still doesn’t like to leave the runway when the ultralight takes off. But she still makes progress, whenever she finally understands what we want her to do — so we hope that will happen on a day-to-day basis."

By September she was better about following the trike. She still liked to hang back with #5-10, or drop off the flight a half mile away from the pen. If they do drop out, the good news is that they're pretty good at catching up with the group on their own. One time #5-10 dropped off in some clearing a half mile away from the pen. Richard and Geoff thought they'd have a busy morning trying to find her again, but she came back on her own as they were putting the other birds back in the pen.
Still, #5 (along with #1 and #9) has a bad habit of flying a single lap and then landing on the runway. That has to change before migration!


First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #5-10 left Necedah NWR on her first migration on October 10, 2010. She was one of seven to take off with Richard's plane. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #5-10 below.

Day 1, October 10: She was one of three dropouts that landed with only 2 miles left to go to reach the first stopover. Even though she finished the trip in a crate by car, she flew a great 21 miles on her first day.

Day 62, Dec. 10: After today's final flight with the Class of 2010 in one large group, she was put into the pen with the four other birds headed to a winter home at St. Marks NWR. Crane #5-10's next flight (Dec. 15) will complete her first migration!

First Winter, Release Site at St. Marks NWR: The St. Marks Five had been banded and got health checks soon after arrival. The top net was removed from their pen and they were set free to come and go on Dec. 25, 1010!

Crane#5 worries Brooke at bedtime. She would rather stay out and forage and grub than join the other four youngsters in the large penned area. Like the others, she should fly back into the safety of the pen, walk out on the oyster bar, and roost with her flock mates as night comes. Two yearling cranes (925 and 929) are like older siblings at the pen site. They are allowed to hang around with this year's youngsters. They call to #5 from inside in frustration. Sometimes the other four chicks join in too. "COME IN HERE NOW! TIME FOR BED!" It's always a huge relief when she finally flies into the pen to roost in safety.

Spring 2011, First Unassisted Migration: April 3 was the day! The winds switched around to the south and the warm temps meant good thermals. Brooke watched as the three remaining youngersters kept taking off on a long flight and then returning to the
pen to strut on the oyster bar and forage. Before long it appeared their 'practice runs'
were over. Calling loudly and full of purpose, females #5-10, #6-10, and #10-10 llaunched one last time. "Up and up and up they spiraled, effortlessly riding the wind until they went from birds, to dots, and then to mere specks against the blue sky," wrote Liz upon hearing Brook's report. They're on their way home!
A PTT reading showed #5-10 in Dane County, Wisconsin on the night of April 13. Cranes #5 and #6 were both confirmed there on April 15. On April 29 they were back on Necedah NWR, first solo migration complete!

Fall 2011: Wintered in North Carolina with crane #28-08 (#828).

Spring 2012: Crane #5-10 and #28-08, who wintered in North Carolina, were located by tracker Eva in Bartholomew County, Indiana on Feb. 29. She and her mate completed migration back to Necedah NWR on March 11. The pair were seen sitting on a nest platform at Necedah NWR on April 11 but tracker Eva said: "Since #5-10 is only two years old, we probably won't call this an official nest unless we see more evidence of consistent incubation, or eggs in the nest. On May 3, Eva said: "28-08/5-10 apparently have a nest in Marathon County. They were sitting during both checks on May 1 and both checks on May 2, so we are going to go ahead and assume that they have an egg." They were still incubating as of May 29. Trackers collected their single infertile egg on June 4 after the pair incubated it past full term and it didn't hatch.

Fall 2012:

Spring 2013: Crane #5-10 and #28-08 completed spring migration by April 2. By late April or early May they were reported nesting! By late April or early May they were reported nesting. This pair was among only three crane pairs still sitting on a nest on May 7 after a three-day span when all 17 other nests were abandoned, possibly due to an outbreak of black flies. On May 21, they hatched the first wild-hatched chick (W1-13) of this season. This female is three years old, and this is her first successful nest. On May 29, a survey flight by Eva revealed only one of the two chicks at the nest site.

Newly hatched W1-13 and W2-13 with parents

By May 23, the second chick (W2-13) had hatched.

Eva saw both chicks on May 26, so it appeared that only one of the twins (W1-13, below, May 29) still survived. It is very rare for twins to survive in the wild, especially to very new and inexperienced parents. The chick was observed with parents when it was two weeks of age, and again when it was just days shy of 1 month of age. Unfortunately, chick W1-13 was lost between the afternoon of 26 June and the afternoon of 2 July at 36-42 days of age.

W1-13 with parents 28-08 and 5-10 on May 29, 2013.

Fall 2013: Crane pair #28-08 and #5-10 wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee with many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2014: #5-10/28-08 and 37-07 began migration together from their wintering area at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee on 21/22 February. They were reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on the evening of Feb. 22nd. They stayed in the area until March 21, when a signal from #5-10 was detected heading north. They were photographed on their territory in Marathon County, Wisconsin, in April. The pair (#5-10 and #28-08) built a nest and hatched a chick, which was observed with them on the May 29 aerial survey flight.

Fall 2014: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee with many other whooping and sandhill cranes.

Spring 2015: #5-10/28-08 returned to the Necedah area and hatched twin chicks around May 16. By June 8, just one chicksurvived, shown below, but the chick had died by June 23.

W6-15 on June 8Photo Beverly Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

Fall 2015: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their usual wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2016: Female #5-10 and mate #28-08 had returned to their Necedah area territory by the end of March. No chicks for them this summer.

Fall 2016: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their wintering area in Meigs County, Tennessee.

Spring 2017: Crane pair #5-10 and #28-08 returned to their Wisconsin territory in Marathon County and were nesting by early April. Their chick, W4-17, was found by pilot Bev Paulan on a May 12 flight (photo below). It was still doing well at age 17 days when seen on Bev's May 25 aerial survey flight but had disappeared by her June 15 flight. Sadly, this pair will flege no chics this summer..

Chick W4-17 with parents on May 12, 2017


Last updated: 6/16/17

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