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

Crane # 9-10

Date Hatched

May 16, 2010



Egg Source

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
 VHF radio transmitter

Temporary/migration band: brown 9

  • 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:

Chick #9-10 was clingy and dependent. In the outdoor pens she went out of her way to hang out with the costumes ("Mommy"). In fact #9-10 would rather sit and bake in the sun with the costume than go into the shade alone to get a drink! "When we were trying to socialize her, she’d always try to hang out or pace where the costume was hiding, and was one of the first to run up to the costume if it came out," said Geoff. "I think she might’ve been uneasy in her new surroundings." It helped when #9-10 began living with the other chicks in the outdoor pens without much contact from the costumes, but she was, and remained, always the first chick to greet the costumes when they appeared.

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 45 days old.

On July 8 Chick 9-10 was eagerly running off down the runway with the other chicks behind the ultralight plane when two adult whoopers joined in. They ran along with the trike and chicks and tried to keep up. Chick #9-10 didn't pay any attention to them. For most of the rest of July she was a lollygagger. But if she got a few days off between sessions, she was raring to go again.

Geoff feels that #9-10 is the anxious chick in the flock. "Like #5-10, she’s not as bright, and seems to be startled by anything new. Here at Necedah, we sometimes had trouble getting her out of the gate. Sometimes, she was so scared of the gate that she wouldn’t leave the pen. She’s gotten better, but she still approaches the gate a little slowly and tentatively. I think she was bumped and shoved around by some other birds as they came out one too many times. But despite her anxiety, she seems less interested in the costume now than she was at Patuxent."

By September 1 she' was not hanging out on the runway anymore but she WAS flying with all the other "big kids." She was now just as eager to come out as all the other crane-kids. But as the weeks went on, she got into the habit, along with #1 and #5, of flying a single lap then landing on the runway. That will need to change before migration begins.

First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane: Chick #9-10 left Necedah NWR on her first migration on October 10, 2010 but turned back shortly after take off. She did not fly any of the 23-mile distance on Day 1, but made the trip in a crate by road. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #9-10 below.

All Days: Magnificent #9 performed like a champ!

Day 63, Dec. 11: Yesterday was the last time all ten birds will fly together as a group. Today #9-10 and the other four birds that will winter at Chassahowitzka NWR flew 86 miles closer to their final destination! They're now in Gilchrist County, with only two more flights to go! [They would have to wait for their next flight until January 14, 2011 due to reason's beyond the team's control.]

Day 72, Jan. 14: Finally in the air again! After so many days in the pen, the Chass Five gave pilots Joe and Richard a rodeo before they got on course to Marion County and the flyover arrival celebration. One more flight gets them to their winter home!

Day 73, Jan. 15: First migration complete!

The Chass Five, free in January in Florida.
Photo Eva Szyszkoski

Winter at the Chass Release Pen: Eva says that female #9-10 is the indifferent one in the group of five. She does not really caring about what else is going on when the costume is in the pen and often gets distracted by something interesting in the water or elsewhere. She was the only one to still have her chick voice in mid-February when the others were changing into adult voices.

Spring 2011, First Unassisted Migration: She began migration on April 4 from the Florida pen site with flock mates #3 and 17! Her PTT that night fired off from Terrell Co, GA, which is about 240 miles from Chass. The second stop (night of 5 April) was on the Elmore/Tallapoosa County border in Alabama, about 100 miles NW of the first stop. Stop 3 was Clark County, IN. Next stop was Livingston County, IL and then Lee County IL. After further stops in Clark County, IN, Livingston County, IL and Lee County, IL, Cranes #3, 9 and 17 were confirmed —still together —at their 6th migration stop (Sauk County, Wisconsin) on April 15. They moved a little south again before officially completing migration.

Fall 2011: Cranes #9-10 and 17-10 wintered in Levy and Marion County, Florida.

Spring 2012: Crane #9-10 returned to Wisconsin and summered with male #19-11 in Adams/Portage County.

Fall/Winter 2012-13: Crane #9-10 and #19-11 migrated to Union County, Illinois by Dec 18th and remained for the winter.

Spring 2013: On April 11, cranes #9-10 and #19-11 were confirmed back in Adams County, Wisconsin! (They would not have been flying the last few days due to unfavorable weather conditions, so they likely have been around since at least April 8, noted tracker Eva Szyszkoski.

The carcass of female #9-10 was collected on her summering territory in Adams County, Wisconsin, on April 25. Death likely occurred around 19 April 19, noted tracker Eva Szyszkoski. The bird's remains were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

Last updated: 5/3/13


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