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

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crane #12-16 DAR
Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF
Crane #16-12 DAR
Date Hatched June 2, 2012
Gender Male
Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)

Personality and Training: 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. "Fireweed" is the nickname they gave to male #16. This crane's parents are in the new Eastern flock of reintroduced Whooping Cranes in central Wisconsin. The egg he hatched from was removed from the nest of #16-07 (female) and #16-02 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and taken to ICF to incubate it until hatching. (The other egg from the nest hatched into #12-12 DAR, so they are siblings.)


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 16-12 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 #15-12 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: Signals from the PTT-wearing females (#17-12 DAR and #13-12 DAR) were detected in Chester County, South Carolina. A visual sighting by the landowner confirmed that the little group of five remains together and left 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 DAR 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 DAR and also #13-1 2DAR from last night's roost point put them within 26 miles of Paynes Prairie, FL.

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

January 7, 2013: Cranes #12-16 DAR, 12-12 DAR and 17-12 DAR remained in Hendry County, Florida but are no longer together.

February 5, 2013: Cranes #16-12 DAR and #17-12 DAR remain in Hendry County, Florida, previously reported as associating with each other on only a few occasions. He was seen there at least through April 9, before spring migration north.

Spring 2013: First Unaided Spring Migration North
Crane 16-12 DAR was reported in Dodge County, Wisconsin, on April 29. On May 14 a nearby landowner reported this male was stil there, in the company of two or three Sandhill cranes. He remained at least through the end of August, with other Sandhill cranes.

Crane 16_12 DAR in Dodge County, Wisconsin
Photo: Lee Buescher


Fall 2013: Crane #16-12 DAR remained with sandhills in Dodge County, Wisconsin, until moving to Columbia County by September 6 and began migration from there on November 22/23. He was confirmed at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama on December 4, but had likely arrived earlier. He remained in the area.

Spring 2014: Crane #16-12 DAR began migration from Wheeler NWR in Alabama on 16-25 February. He was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on 26 February throughat least 21 March. He was next reported in Jasper County, Indiana, on 29 March; Dane County, Wisconsin on 7 April; Green Lake County on 9 April and Columbia County on 10 and 11 April. Migration was pretty much complete once he reached WI. He was found in Monroe County during a flight on 5 May. He remained here through at least mid July.

Fall 2014: Crane #16-12 DAR began migration from Monroe County, Wisconsin, on November 17th. He was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on November 19th and remained through approximatly January 6th. He was confirmed at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on January 8, 2015 and was last detected at this location the following two days. No subsequent reports.

Spring 2015: No reports or sightings since January 10 at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge...but he did return to Juneau County, Wisconsin for the summer.

Fall 2015: Crane #16-12 was still in in Juneau County, Wisconsin, as of Nov. 28. ICF tracker Anne Lacey confirmed the ID of a single whooping crane in a field with hundreds of staging sandhills down the road from her house... and it was #16-12! Anne reported, "It appears as though he spent the summer alone, unfortunately."

Spring 2016: He returned to Juneau County, WI. for the summer, alone.

Fall 2016: Migrated to Alabama's Wheeler NWR for the winter.

Spring 2017: He returned to Juneau County Wisconsin. Male #16-12 still has no mate, but he has a buddy in #12-09. The two birds hang out together in Juneau County.


Last updated: 6/1/2017