Meet the Class of 2013 Whooping Cranes
Hatch-year 2013 of the Eastern Flock

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DAR crane Latka
Photo:Int'l Crane Foundation
Latka #59-13 (DAR)
Date Hatched June 13, 2013
Gender Female
Left Leg Right Leg
(VHF radio transmitter)


Personality and Training: How did she get the name Latke? ICF staff used the theme of TV sitcoms or sitcom characters when they named the new chicks. (A change in the numbering system is under discussion.) Latke is named after Latka Gravas of the old TV show "Taxi." Latka is the smallest chick, but she has a lot of spunk! She came to the DAR program as an egg from the Calgary Zoo Whooping cranes.

Latka and the other DAR chicks were costume reared and then transported to Horicon Wildlfe Refuge in early September. The chicks will now spend more time out of a pen and less time with the costume. They will be officially released probably at the end of October to mingle with other wild Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes. If all goes as planned, the youngsters will follow the older cranes to learn the flock's southward migration route.

The DAR chicks got their legbands and colors on Sept 27. Over the summer, Laktke had not grown as much as the other chicks so she received only 3 color bands. The DAR chicks were released at Horicon NWR on Oct 24, 2013.

Latka (#59-13) was initially detected heading south with juveniles nos. 50, 51, and 54-13 on 11 December 11, but separated from them and returned to the Horicon NWR. Since it was dangerously cold and it appeared she would fail to migrate, she was captured, held overnight at the International Crane Foundation (ICF), and transported by aircraft south to the Wheeler NWR in Alabama the next day. There she was released near other Sandhill and Whooping cranes. This intervention was necessary to give her the best chance to survive winter, although she did not learn her migration route. Latka (#59-13) apparently liked her new home at Wheeler NWR because she was still there as March began.


DAR crane Latka
Image: Intl. Crane Foundation

Dar cranes at Horicon Regufe after releaseImage: Doug Pellerin

Spring 2014: Latke (DAR no. 59-13) is home again! The young crane, relocated by aircraft to Wheeler NWR in Alabama when she failed to migrate south, learned her migration route for the first time this spring, led north by four older Whoopers (#6-11/15-11, 17-07 and 7-12). On March 12 she was identified by her band colors in Jasper County. She was small and still had splotches of the buff-colored feathers of a young crane. She was next seen March 19 in Dane County, WI by ICF tracker Eva Szyszkoski, still with the four older cranes that led her north. Can you find Latke in the photo below?

Group of five Whooping Cranes, including Latke, after completing spring migration to Wisconsin.
Image: International Crane Foundation, Eva Szyszkoski

Latke was left alone when the four older birds left her in Dane County and continued to Necedah NWR. She was photographed in Dane County, Wisconsin on March 21 (below) and last confirmed there on March 28, in the company of Sandhill Cranes, Canada geese, turkeys, deer and ducks! She wandered in the summer and was in Dodge County, WI in mid July.

Latke (#59-13) in Dane County, WI on March 21, 2014Image: Ted Thousand

Fall 2014: Latke (DAR #59-13) was reported at the Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, on November 21st, migration complete! During the winter she was often seen associating with male #1-11.

Spring 2015: Female #59-13 DAR remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, through at least March 10th, when she was observed with #38-08, #1-11 and #24-13. She was next reported with sandhill cranes in Rock County, Wisconsin, on March 24th, where she stayed fthrough at least March 31st. She was last reported in Rock County, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of April 3rd. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Fall 2015: Latke (DAR#59-13) migrated to Wheeler NWR as usual.

Spring 2016: Crane 59-13 (DAR) and male #1-11 returned together by April 1 from their wintering location at Wheeler NWR to 1-11’s summer territory in St. Croix County, WI. They nested and on May 17, new chick W6-16 was first seen with the parents. The chick was still alive as of June 1 but did not survive into July.

Female #59-13 DAR on nesting platform with her new chick in May 2016

Fall 2016: Latke (DAR#59-13), with male #1-11, migrated in November to Wheeler NWR in Alabama.

Spring 2016: Crane 59-13 (DAR) and mate #1-11 returned to Wisconsin and were nesting by early April!

Last updated: 4/10/2017