Photo: International Crane Foundation
Meet the Class of 2011 Whooping Crane Chicks!
Hatch-year 2011 of the Eastern Flock

Crane # 16-11 (DAR)

Date Hatched

June 15, 2011



Egg Source

Leg Bands

(Attached before fall migration)

Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)


  • Read more about the raising and naming of the DAR chicks.
    *Scroll to bottom for most recent history.*

Personality as a Chick
Grasshopper presented some challenges his first couple of days. Handlers said it was hard to teach this chick to eat. Even when he did start eating well, Grasshopper was extremely active both indoors and outdoors so it was hard to keep him growing! Grasshopper was only a challenge until he was able to explore the outside world. "The chick follows quickly and is very responsive to the costume," says intern Jackie. "Grasshopper an adorable and fun little bird." One of Grasshopper's favorite treats in the yard is spiderwort. Stay tuned for more news about Grasshopper.

On September 20, he was transported with his entire cohort of Direct Autum Release chicks to Horicon Refuge to spend the next few weeks in an enclosure and under supervision. On Ocober 14 he was banded with his permanent leg band colors. On October 21 he was set free to hang out with sandhill cranes on the refuge. The team hopes he'll follow them south on migration, and learn where to go. Tracking Crew Chief Eva said that when the DAR birds were released, seven of them (including #16) hung out in one group by themselves; on Oct. 24 they flew a really big loop over the northern end of the refuge. On October 27th this group moved to a small area of marshland in Dane County. They spend the day foraging in some cut corn fields before returning to the marsh habitat to roost in the evening with a few dozen Sandhill cranes.
Images: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Migration History

Fall 2011, First Migration: He departed southern Wisconsin and was detected in flight with #13-11 in northern Illinois on November 29. Their wintering location was still unknown as of Feb, 2012.

Spring 2012: This crane was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on March 8 and migrated back to Marquette County, Wisconsin sometime before April 19.

Fall 2012: Crane #16-11 (DAR) migrated and was reported in Indiana in January 2013. But he didn't stop there! In February, visitor Doug McCoy at the Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee spotted a lone white Whooping crane among a throng of gray Sandhill cranes. His photo confirmed it was #16-11 DAR!

Crane #16-11 at Hiwassee in TN in Feb. 2013

Spring 2013: Crane #16-11 had completed migration by March 30. Here he is in August, photographed by Doug Pellerin while flying over Wisconsin's Horicon Refuge with Sandhill cranes:

Cfrane d11-16 DAR flyng over Horicon Refuge with Sanshill cranes in August, 2013

Fall 2013: Remained at Horicon NWR in Wisconsin.

Spring 2014: Male #16-11 apparently nested with a female sandhill crane at Horicon NWR in Central Wisconsin

Fall 2014: Male #16-11 migrated from Horicon NWR in Wisconsin on November 18 and was last reported in Jasper County, Indiana, at the end of Dec 2014.

Spring 2015: Male #16-11 completed spring migration back to his Wisconsin nesting grounds the weekend of March 14-15. But—astonishingly—he mated with a female Sandhill Crane and they produced the very first hybrid chick in the Eastern Migratory Flock (EMP). The chick was nickname "Whoopsie." Male #16-11DAR is a vigilant father and has helped his Sandhill mate protect the young hybrid chick from predation. Here's the family of three on May 28, 2015:

Whoophill chick (hybrid) and its Whooping Crane father and Sandhill Crane mother

In June 2015, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) and staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured #16-11's hybrid crane chick in eastern Wisconsin and by September placed the colt in captivity in ICF's Crane City, but not on exhibit. They hope to pair it with an existing bird in their collection for companionship. (As a hybrid, the chick is likely sterile and researchers don't want a future pairing with another Whooping Crane. Such a pairing would do nothing to build the eastern flock's population.)

NOTE: When older, "Whoopsie" was paired with a female Sandhill Crane at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, WI. ICF uses Sandhills to help incubate Whooping Crane eggs. The pair will become "surrogate incubators" for ICF's Whooping Crane reintroduction program.

To increase the chance that male Whooping crane #16-11 DAR will help build his species’ population in the future but with a suitable (wild) Whooping crane mate, WCEP has decided to try breaking up the pair.

Fall 2015: Crane #16-11 DAR was last reported in Wisconsin on December 14th. He spent the winter in Jackson County, Indiana, in an area with a large number of Sandhill Cranes.

Spring 2016: He migrated back to WI very early, and was seen back on territory at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin on Feb 23, 2016. However, 16-11 DAR was captured on April 8 at Horicon and relocated to a holding pen at Necedah NWR until after breeding season is over. He got a replacement transmitter (VHF) and was released on April 12 on Necedah. Male #16-11 proved he is a successful father, and that's why it's critical for him to pair with another Whooping crane. We hope he'll find a female Whooping crane (NOT a female Sandhill: see Spring 2015, above) at Necedah. After he was released at Necedah, he went back to Horicon and was seen with one Sandhill Crane for the rest of the summer. The DNR pilot that flew on July 1st didn't see him with any Sandhills, but we saw him consistently with a Sandhill crane before and after that.

Fall 2016: In early October, a team from ICF captured #16-11 just before he would have migrated south for the winter. They transported #16-11 to White Oak Conservation, a breeding center for endangered species in Yulee, Florida. They didn’t want to permanently remove him from the wild because he showed he could be a good parent—a valuable trait. They believed it important to try some experimental means to see if he could be rehabilitated to form a bond with a female Whooping Crane. At the Florida breeding center, he was paired with a female Whooping Crane. If he took a liking to his new partner, the new pair might mate and eventually return to the wild as a permanent pair. (Even though he's in captivity, he is still counted in the population total of the Eastern Migratory Flock (EMP) because the plan is for him to be released again.)

Spring 2017: Still in Captivity at White Oaks (see above) with female "Hemlock." The two Whooping Cranes appear to have formed a mating bond, and WCEP team members are still considering relocating this pair back to Wisconsin.





Last updated: 6/9/17

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