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

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Baby crane #12-17 DAR
Photo: ICF
Crane #17-12 DAR
Date Hatched June 10, 2012
Gender Female
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. "Rush" is the nickname they gave to female #17. She hatched from an egg transferred from the Calgary Zoo in Canada. She is the offspring of Nelson (female), who hatched at ICF in 1993 from an egg collected from a wild crane on the main (Western) flock's breeding grounds in Canada, and sent to Calgary Zoo as a juvenile crane).


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 17-12 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 this day for these wild and free birds!

Oct. 31: Migration begins! Crane #17-12 DAR left Horicon with all the other DAR chicks 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 #17-12 DAR was detected in Chester County, South Carolina by PTT data. Hooray! Also, signals from #13-12's PTT showed that the two females are together. 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 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, 2013: Cranes #12-16, 12-12 and 17-12 remained in Hendry County, Florida but are no longer together.

February 5, 2013: Cranes #17-12 and #16-12 remain in Hendry County, Florida, previously reported as associating with each other on only a few occasions. Female 17-12 has not been reported for a few weeks; however, PTT information received on the night of January 25 indicated that she was still in the area. ICF tracker Eva announced in mid February:

"The remains of Direct Autumn Release juveniles 12-12 (male) and 17-12 (female) were collected from their wintering territory in Hendry County, Florida, in mid-February. Death had likely occurred in late December or January."

Last updated: March 2013