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

Crane # 6-10

Date Hatched

May 11, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
  VHF radio

Temporary band: green 6

  • 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 mother: Many years ago, when we had a few pairs that broke their eggs if the eggs were not removed immediately. If one of those pairs was expected to lay an egg, we would post a watcher so the egg could be rescued as soon as possible. I remember huddling in the cold about 2:00 AM waiting for one of those females to lay. When she finally did, I rushed into the pen (a daunting task, facing two aggressive birds nearly as tall as oneself!) and snatched away the egg. What a thrill! Those two egg-breakers have quit their bad habit and one of them laid the egg that hatched into #6-10.
-Jane Chandler, Patuxent WRC 

Chick #6-10 was a loner, an introvert, and not fond of confrontations. She was content to wander off and do her own thing. This made #6-10 hard to raise as a baby chick since her attention was on everything else but the trainer. She would rather wander around the outdoor pens happily foraging while the other chicks tried to hang out with "Mommy," the costumed handler.

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 50 days old.

"I always thought of her as being a calm and trusting bird," said Geoff. "She didn’t seem to worry about the stuff the other chicks did. That’s the impression I’ve had of her ever since I saw her socialized. While #8-10 and #9-10 were trying to find the costume or lay down where they thought it was hiding, little female #6-10 was busy exploring her new pen. I first thought it was independence. But after spending time with her in Necedah, I think it’s more that she has a real sense of security. Even if she can’t see the costume, she knows it’s not far away if trouble arises. Like #1-10, she seems to completely trust the costume, and is one of the first to greet it, and one of the first to come in and out the gate. She’s even one of the best fliers in the cohort since she’s willing to put her faith in the costume that's flying the ultralight."

She proved to be an excellent flier and follower during training!

First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #6-10 left Necedah NWR on her first migration on October 10, 2010. She was one of seven in the Class of 2010 to take off with Richard's ultralight and one of only four to go the whole 23-mile distance on Day 1. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #6-10 below.

Day 9, October 18: Crane 6 flew with Richard and she had his wing all to her self. "With her wings seemingly locked in place she glided along, sometime over taking the trike. So I decided that maybe faster was better. Pulling the bar in, soon we were flying about 45 miles per hour air speed. At times we reached a ground speed of 55 miles per hour. As we approached our stop in Green County we began to descend and she stayed right there on the wingtip, gliding along, the wind slipping by her feathers. When we landed, her head feathers (more hair like at her age) were arranged as if combed to a peak along the center line of her head, pushed there by the wind."

Day 10, October 19: "All jazzed up from yesterday's flight, #6-10 began to experiment with the wing. She would get in front of the wing and glide on the air pushed in front, which would then push her up then down to the side and back again. This comical maneuvering would continue until she lost total control and fell down below the trike. She would then go back and retake her lead position.
At first I thought she had learned her lesson, but soon she would do it again— porpoising around, with her neck and wings dodging about at weird angles. It soon became evident that she was having fun with her new found confidence in the wing. This crazy wonderful behavior continued for the remainder of the flight!"

Day 22, Oct. 31: Crane #6 dropped down just short of the goal, but pilot Richard swooped in to let her fly near his wing. She made it!

Day 27, Nov. 6: Little #6 has turned into an aerobatics queen. Pilot Richard said this bird could be in the Oshkosh air show next year. "She would fly off the slipstream in front of the wing, sometimes seemingly almost inverted, her flight twisting about, her neck more serpent-like than bird-like. And even though her head seemed to be straight and level the whole time, her body and wings danced around like a Pitt’s Special at an air show." Richard was surprised when all the other birds landed at the new stopover by Joe's plane while #6 kept flying with Richards as though glued to his wing! Finally the two of them landed, too. Good job, both of you!

Day 48, Nov. 26: On today's double-leg, #6 did not want to land after flying 116 miles. When lead pilot Joe's throttle got stuck, Richard moved in to lead the birds to landing. All but #6 landed as Richard pulled up and away, but #6 was determined to follow his aircraft. Richard made three additional attempts to drop off #6, but she still wouldn’t land. By this time, Joe's throttle had freed itself so Joe picked up #6 again. Joe set up to land, and loyal #6 followed him, just inches from Joe's wingtip. Hooray, #6!

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 #6-10'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!

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
launched 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!

Female #6-10 migrated most of the way with #5 and #10. After leaving St. Marks on April 3, their migration stops were St. Clair County, AL, Allen County, KY, Howard County, IL, Newton county, IN, McHenry County, IL, and Dane County, WI. Tracking crew chief Eva reported that a PTT reading showed #5-10 in Dane County, Wisconsin on the night of April 13 and cranes #5 and #6 were both confirmed there on April 15 but #10 was not with them. Did she zoom ahead to the finish line at Necedah NWR? Stay tuned. Cranes 5 and 6 were confirmed on Necedah NWR April 29, migration complete!

Fall 2011: Crane 6-10 migrated to Greene County, Indiana for the winter.

Spring 2012: Returned to the Mead SWA, Marathon Co, Wisconsin. However, on June 13 her carcass was discovered during an aerial survey over Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Her remains have been sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Service in Madison for necropsy.

Last updated: 7/5/12

Back to "Meet the Flock 2010"