Meet the Class of 2012 Whooping Cranes
Hatch-year 2012 of the Eastern Flock

Back to Meet the Cranes 2012

baby crane #12-13 DAR
Photo: ICF
Crane #13-12 DAR
Date Hatched May 28, 2012
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)

Personality and Training: Female #12-13 is the offspring of famous male Whooping Crane named Gee Whiz, who lived at ICF in Wisconsin. Gee Whiz is the only chick produced by Tex, the female Whooping Crane that ICF Co-founder George Archibald famously danced with to prepare her for laying eggs when nothing else worked.

The crew at ICF chose "prairies and wetlands" for the theme in naming the 2012 DAR birds they would costume-rear for later release with wild cranes. "Tussock" is the nickname they gave to female #13.

Fall 2012: In early September, the chicks were transferred to Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for their release in central Wisconsin.

Release took place Oct. 29. The chicks stood outside their boxes for several minutes looking around and flapping. Finally they took off toward the direction of the sandhill cranes that were roosting. ICF's Marianne Wellington. Chick 13-12 DAR and all the others except #14 (who took off with Sandshill Cranes) were together the next morning in the location where their costumed caretaker usually joined them. No costume waited today for these wild and free birds!

Oct. 31: Migration begins! Crane #13-12 DAR left Horicon with all but #14. They were tracked by ICF's Eva iinto the Chicago area of Illinois before Eva got caught in traffic and lost signals of the cranes. It appears that the little group roosted that night in Lawrence County, Indiana.

November 3: Crane #13-12 DAR was detected in Chester County, South Carolina by PTT data. A visual sighting by the landowner confirmed that the other 4 DAR cranes are still with her. The little group left that location on Nov. 4.

Nov. 4: Still together, the five DAR cranes left their roost location in Chester County, South Carolina. They are NOT with experienced sandhill cranes! "They are winging it on their own!" reports ICF tracker, Eva. PTT readings from #17-12 put her (likely with the others) at the Cape Romain NWR on the Atlantic Coast for the night of November 4.

Nov. 5: PTT readings for 13-12 showed they migrated from Cape Romain NWR down the coast to southern Glynn County, GA, where they roosted. The five young whoopers are likely all still together, and only 50 miles from Jacksonville, Florida!

Nov. 7: GPS PTT readings from #17-12 and also #13-12 from last night's roost point put them within 26 miles of Paynes Prairie.

Nov. 8: PTT readings show they moved SE of Tampa, likely still all together and continued flying south, roosting in Monroe County in the Everglades (5pm location).

January 7: Crane #13-12 was still with #15-12 after they moved from their Hendry County location to Broward County, Florida December 22. She was reported with a leg injury, and walking with a limp.

January 26: Tracker Eva Szyszkoski of International Crane Foundation reported: Over the past couple of weeks, observers reported that the severity of #13-12's limp was diminishing. However, on January 25 she was observed in a nearby neighborhood, acting very listless and sitting down a lot with an injury to her right foot. She was captured on January 26 and transported to Disney's Animal Kingdom where doctors amputated her right middle toe and nurtured her back to health.

February 9: Crane #13-12 was driven north to freedom at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee. This makes her the first bird from this population to ever be captured, transported to a medical facility, treated, and successfully re-released back into the wild. Good luck to #13-12, who now has two toes on her right foot.

February 18: ICF tracker Eva has been monitoring #13-12's return to the wild after toe surgery. Eva reports she is adapting to walking on her foot and she no longer limps. She is also flying very well. Way to go, #13!

X-ray of #13-12's feet after toe surgery
Image: Dr. Scott Tidmus, Disney Animal Kingdom

Spring 2013: First Unaided Spring Migration North
April 23: Crane 13-12 DAR began migration from Tennessee on April 23. PTT readings placed her in Orange/Martin Counties, Indiana that night. She continued north into Putnam County, Indiana, on April 24/25 and completed migration to Dane County, Wisconsin on May 1! Sadly, ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski reported finding #13-12's remains on Juy 18 in Dane County, where she had been since arriving back in central Wisconsin. Date of death was established as June 17, 2013.


Last updated: 7/25/2013