Meet the Class of 2011 Whooping Cranes!
Hatch-year 2011 of the Eastern Flock

Crane #10-11

Date Hatched

May 12, 2011



Egg Source

Eastern Flock (rescued egg from nest of #726 and #307)

Leg Bands

(Attached after reaching Florida)

Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)

Temporary/migration band: white

  • Read about the naming system, hatch place in Maryland, release site in Wisconsin, over-wintering site in Florida, and leg-band codes.
#5, #6, #10 and #4

Personality, Early Training
So far, he seems fairly level-headed and agreeable, said Geoff. "He hasn’t been up to any mischief, and he wasn't in la-la land when I tried to get him to eat out the bowl. Once he seemed to forget how to feed himself, but he’s long since remembered. He seems to like the outdoors as I had no trouble getting him in and out of his pen. He didn’t even bolt too much when we showed him the trike. So far, I think he’s mellow, and not a demanding little chick."

Crane #10-11 was just lying down one day, minding his own business, when #1-11 poked him in the back with his beak and he didn't fight back, so he's staying mellow.

Notes from "Flight School" at White River Marsh in Wisconsin:
Chick #10 arrived in Wisconsin with the Class of 2011 on June 28. He's a good bird. July was quite rainy, so training had to be cancelled on several days. But #10 learned to hop, skip, jump, run and finally glide after the trike as it zoomed down the grassy strip. By Aug. 1 all the birds were eager to get out to the trike when it taxied on the grass past the pen. Even though the birds haven’t quite got the hang of flying yet, watching 10 birds glide out of the pen towards the trike is still a sight to behold," said Geoff.

"All the birds seem eager to follow the aircraft. Whether they’re flying, or just catching ground effect, I can count on roughly eight or nine of them flapping after the trike." Soon they'll be able to climb higher and keep up with the trike (ultralight plane), thought the team. But by mid August, #10 was still one of of 6-7 birds who still were not getting airborne behind the ultralight plane. This group usually slammed on their brakes and stayed on the runway as soon as the trike took off to the air. They'd rather "chill" at the end of the runway than take off and follow! He's one of the youngest, but by mid August he was intent on following the ultralight, even if from below and on the ground. On August 21 he thrilled the pilot Richard by lifting off and joining him and the two best fliers for a great flight.
August 27 training flight
September 8, 2011
Image: Geoff Tarbox

By the end of August, all the birds finally took off with the ultralight. Some of them usually turn back, but #10 is proudly proving himself to be a good flier and follower. He became one of five birds the pilots could count on to always be good fliers during training.

Then what happened? Crane #10 slacked off the first days in September. It seemed he would rather hang out with his costumed "daddies" than work out and follow an ultralight. That means the group of five top fliers went down to four — and the pilots hope #10 gets back with the program soon!

Migration departure week: Geoff sums up crane #10: "I almost wonder if #10 and #5 were twin brothers separated from birth! Because #10 is every bit as friendly to the costume as #5 is. I can generally count on him welcoming me to the pen with open arms when I do checks. they both steal grapes. However, I will say that #10 puts more effort into flying than #5 does.

"There was a time when #10 was a solid flier. But when #6 fell to the wayside, #10 did too. However, I have an idea that might explain it. The days #10 wasn't flying, he could be found hanging out in front of the pen door. Caleb and I didn't know what to make of it until Brooke told us that he must've figured out we (costumes) were back there and he felt more like hanging out with his costume buddies than flying. Because of that, I'd say #10's even more attached to the costume than #5 is. Because whenever #5 lands, he just wanders up and down the runway, whereas #10 parks himself right at the gate. But he IS the baby brother, so it only make sense he's clingy to his 'parents'."

First Migration South, Led by Ultralight Airplane:

Crane #10-11 did not make it to the first stopover on Day 1 or Day 2. Instead, he (and all 4 other males in the class of 2011) had to be crated and driven to Stopover #1 after they again failed to fly with the ultralight plane on Day 3. Find day-by-day news about the flock's migration and read more about #10-11 below.

Crane #10, like cranes #4 and #12, gets his deworming medicine inside a grape, sinceshe wont' touch a smelt with a 10-foot pole. (Cranes usually love to eat smelt, a tasty small fish, in which the team puts de-worming medicine so the cranes will swallow their meds.)

October 22, Day 14: Crane #10 was one of only four birds to fly the distance to Stopover #2. He flew the 14 miles alone with Joe's ultralight.

Oct. 28, Day 20: Crane #10 flew the distance despite challenging events today. He had an unexpected stop when Richard landed with his five birds rather than risk losing #6 as it spooked and staring dropping out. After a rest (and crating of #6 by trackers), Richard and cranes 1, 4, 9 and 10 took off and finished the flight. They flew the remaining 20 miles in a headwind, which took almost an hour. Way to go!

Oct. 29, Day 21: A GREAT day! Crane #10—and all nine other birds in the Class of 2011—flew the distance today! It's the first day of the migration for the whole group to go the whole way. (The class is down to nine because missing crane #2-11 turned up with abig flock of wild sandhills.)

Nov. 20, Day 43: After 15 down days, the birds and trikes finally got to fly again! Crane #10 blasted out of the pen and flew the 59 miles to Piatt County, IL.

January 15, 2011, Day 77: After more than a month of stand-down at Frankin County, Alabama, today the migration started up again. But #10 wasn't interested: He was the only one who didn't take off with the others. He finally got airborne on the pilot's second pass by the pen but he soon broke away and dropped out along with a few others. He appeared i flight with the ultralight again later when Joe was flying back to the pen with #10 after rescuing her the second time today. He didn't fly with them long, and had to be ltracked, crated and driven back to the pen.

February 4, 2012: The nine cranes in the ultralight-led Class of 2011 became the first to finish their migration in a road vehicle. They were crated at the travel pen in Winston County, Alabama and driven to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to finish the winter and learn to be independent. Banding took place on February 8. Brooke will watch over them as they slowly become wild and free. Check this bio page for further news in the life of of crane #10-11!

Spring 2012: First Unaided Migration North:
The nine cranes in the ultralight-led Class of 2011 ALL began their first journey north together from Wheeler NWR in Alabama on April 12 at 11:00 a.m. Three of the birds (#4, #7, and #9) are wearing PTT units so they can be tracked by satellite. GPS data showed they roosted the first night only 10 miles from their journey south stopover site in Union County, Kentucky. On their first full day of migration they covered about 231 miles and made it to Gallatin County, Illinois. PTT data indicate an April 15th daytime location in Wayne Co., IL for Whooping crane #9-11. Were they all together? Data from the same evening have cranes #4 and #7 at a roost location in Bureau County, IL. "It is possible that the nine cranes are still traveling as a group, however, we have no way of confirming this," said Operation Migration's Heather Ray. They did not travel April 16. On April 25 it was learned that #10 is traveling with #7 and #12! That means he went from Houston County, Minnesota, corrected course to move further east to eastern Marquette County, Wisconsin, and then Columbia County by April 21, approximately 27 miles south of White River Marsh. Hooray! In early June, this group of thre was reported in neighboring Marquette County, WI— approximately 11 miles from their former pensite, and right on the migration route between the first and second stopovers made on their aircraft-led journey south.

Fall 2012: Crane 10-11 migrated and spent the winter in Colbert County, Alabama.

Spring 2013: Completed migration to Wisconsin on March 29 with #7 and #12 from his 2011 cohort.

Fall 2013:

Spring 2014: Male #10-11 was observed on territory with female #12-11 in mid-April— but on April 24 he was foraging only 500 feet south of where female #7-11 was seen sitting on what appeared to be a nest. Tracker Eva Szyszkoski photographed the nest, which was still active as of April 30, so it appears that male #10-11 and female 7-11 are now a pair! The pair is only three years old, so if the nest survives and they fledge chicks, it will be a great sign, noted Joe Duff. However, on May 19 we learned that the pair had been spotted together away from the nest, and seeing both adults away from the nest indicates a nest failure. ICF's tracker Eva and Operation Migration's Caleb checked the nest and Eva noted it had been constructed almost entirely with sticks as opposed to the grasses usually used by Whoopers. She was also able to tell that the one egg they found had been viable. It’s great that the pair are producing viable eggs, but just as unfortunate that this viable egg didn’t make it. Still, there's hope for more from this young pair!

Aerial view of the first nest built at Wisconsin's White River Marsh.

Broken egg of pair 7-11 and 10-11
Images: WCEP

Fall 2014: Pair #7-11 and #10-11 moved to Dane County, WI, on 2 September from their breeding territory in Marquette County. They began migration Nov. 16 or 17 and spent winter in Lawrence County, Alabama.

Spring 2015: Male #10-11 was confirmed back on his former breeding territory in Marquette Co, Wisconsin, on May 5th. He and his former mate#7-11 apparently split in early April for unknown reasons.

Fall 2015: Male #10-11 migrated south to his wintering grouns in Lawrence County, Illinois, where he was photographed in February 2016 with his new mate, female #7-09. His mate was found dead in March, but male #10-11 was alive, nearby.

Spring 2016: Male #10-11 was confirmed on his Marquette County, WI summer territory in April, but then returned to Lawrence County, IL.. Earlier this year he lost his mate to predation at the same location.

Fall 2016: Male #10-11 again migrated south to Lawrence County, Illinois, where he was reported by Nov. 13 and continued his Indiana wintering grounds in early December.

Spring 2017: Male #10-11 was confirmed March 5th at White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin! He was spotted with Sandhill cranes. The Operation Migration team believes this is the first time this nearly 6-year-old crane has returned to the marsh. His typical territory is southwest in Marquette County. He soon moved back there, were he was sometimes spotted on his summer territory with PR 27-14.



Last updated: 4/3/17

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