Class of 2017

Class of 2017

 

This year the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership is using two release methods: Group One – Modified Costume-Rearing (CR) and Group Two – Parent-Rearing (PR). Group Three includes any wild-hatched crane chicks that survived to fledge and migrate south.

The first group, consisting of seven young Whooping cranes was costumed-reared at White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin at the pensite, which used to house the ultralight-guided cranes each year.

The intent of costume rearing is to increase the amount of on-site learning for the cranes, or getting them into their release area sooner. To that end, the group of seven arrived from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland on June 21, 2017.

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Group One – Costume-Reared (CR) Whooping cranes
1-17 2-17 3-17 4-17 6-17
7-17 8-17      
     
Group Two – Parent-Reared (PR) Whooping cranes

As the name implies, they have been raised at the captive breeding centers (in enclosures) by their parents from the time they hatched until early September when they were transferred to Wisconsin.

19-17 24-17 25-17 26-17 28-17

Died May ’19  

Died Jan ’19

Died Dec ’17  
30-17 36-17 37-17 38-17 39-17

Died April ’18

Died Nov ’18

Died Nov. ’17

  Died May ’19
72-17        
       
Group Three – Wild-Hatched Whooping cranes
W3-17 W7-17      
         

On July 10th the seven young costume-reared Whooping cranes were vaccinated by Dr. Barry Hartup of the International Crane Foundation and two vet tech students with University of Wisconsin. The vaccinations will guard them against Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Crane #1-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen.

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: April 24, 2017

Personality and characteristics: Number 1-17 established himself quite early as the LEADER. A very dominant crane. He’ll take a jab at another bird for no reason just to assert his authority. He’ll also take jabs at costumes and puppets he is not familiar with.

Colleen says from a very early age, this young crane colt could spot a worm at 50 paces!

As he developed over the season Colleen described him as the one to always be most vigilant. Very aware and confident.

This Whooping crane came from the captive breeding stock at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, in Laurel, Maryland.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

Cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were eventually captured and relocated to Goose Pond in Greene County, Indiana. Brooke and Colleen drove overnight so the cranes were not stressed terribly by the move. They were released at Goose pond and 30 minutes later the trio took flight and flew south to Talladega County, Alabama where they spent the winter.

Spring 2018: On March 31st, all three Whooping cranes began heading north. By the beginning of May it became apparent cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were lost. These three cranes were transported last fall from Wisconsin to Greene County, Indiana and therefore, did not know the way back to Wisconsin.

The trio flew north to Sangamon County, Illinois where they stayed for several weeks before 1-17 and 2-17 headed northwest to Iowa where they remain.

Summer 2018: 1-17 and 2-17 spent most of their summer in Iowa, until August when they moved to northern Illinois. They associated with pair 10-15 and 4-13 in Winnebago County.

Fall 2018: 1-17 and 2-17 finally left Illinois at the end of November, after they were caught in a snowstorm! They arrived at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on November 28, where they met up with 8-17 again! However, while 8-17 left for Tennessee in December, 1-17 and 2-17 remain in Alabama.

Spring 2019: 1-17 and 2-17 left Wheeler NWR on February 14 and headed to central Indiana. From there, they began a fantastic wandering trip that led them north and south through Indiana and Illinois many times. However, on March 14, they excited everyone by returning to Wisconsin for the first time since they were translocated to Indiana in 2017! They continued their wandering through Wisconsin, though scientists hope they will find a nice wetland to settle in for the summer! 

In mid-April, the duo separated, and 1-17 was next seen alone in Jackson County, Wisconsin. 

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Crane #2-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: April 28, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Number 2-17 has been the crybaby but she is smart enough to take breaks and go drink before remembering she was having a temper tantrum and gets back to it quickly. She peeps loudly. A lot.

She is a full sibling to male #3-17 and both came from the first ever wild hatched crane in the Eastern Migratory Population, female number W1-06. Dad is number 1-10 and their territory is at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, WI.

As this female developed over the season she became independent, inquisitive and self assured. She did not mind being off alone.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Illinois, over 200 miles away!

Cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were eventually captured and relocated to Goose Pond in Greene County, Indiana. Brooke and Colleen drove overnight so the cranes were not stressed terribly by the move. They were released at Goose pond and 30 minutes later the trio took flight and flew south to Talladega County, Alabama where they spent the winter.

Spring 2018: On March 31st, all three Whooping cranes began heading north. By the beginning of May it became apparent cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were lost. These three cranes were transported last fall from Wisconsin to Greene County, Indiana and therefore, did not know the way back to Wisconsin.

The trio flew north to Sangamon County, Illinois where they stayed for several weeks before 2-17 and 1-17 headed northwest to Iowa where they remain.

Summer 2018: 2-17 and 1-17 spent most of their summer in Iowa, until August when they moved to northern Illinois. They associated with pair 10-15 and 4-13 in Winnebago County.

Fall 2018: 2-17 and 1-17 finally left Illinois at the end of November, after they were caught in a snowstorm! They arrived at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on November 28, where they met up with 8-17 again! However, while 8-17 left for Tennessee in December, 1-17 and 2-17 remain in Alabama.

Spring 2019: 2-17 and 1-17 left Wheeler NWR on February 14 and headed to central Indiana. From there, they began a fantastic wandering trip that led them north and south through Indiana and Illinois many times. However, on March 14, they excited everyone by returning to Wisconsin for the first time since they were translocated to Indiana in 2017! They continued their wandering through Wisconsin, though scientists hope they will find a nice wetland to settle in for the summer! 

In mid-April, the duo separated, and 2-17 was next seen associating with male W10-15 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. 

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Crane #3-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: April 29, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: LOVES the water! Sticks his head under for long periods of time, to explore and look for tasty treats. Loves to bath and splash in the water. Fearless and is loyal to the costume.

He is a full sibling to number 2-17 and is the complete opposite. He is confident and inquisitive, while she whines and peeps constantly.

He is very brave, aggressive – almost like a watch dog. He has attacked Doug Pellerin, who volunteers on Thursdays and also Taylor, one of the vet techs that assisted with the vaccinations along with Dr. Barry Hartup on July 10th.

Both came from the first ever wild hatched crane in the Eastern Migratory Population, female number W1-06. Dad is number 1-10 and their territory is at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, WI.

As he grew over the summer Colleen described his as “in your face, confrontational quick to jump rake. Often on attack mode all of which was to disguise his wimpy streak. Wanted to go back to the pen early, scared of the water. Insecure. My favorite bird.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes, before continuing to head south to Fulton County, Kentucky where they spent the winter.

Cranes 3-17 & 7-17 spent the winter at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge near Decatur, Alabama.

Spring 2018: In early April, they began heading north along with #69-16. They arrived about a week later in Juneau County and spent a couple of weeks in and around the refuge before heading east. On April 25th 3-17 & 7-17 were confirmed in Marquette County, WI ~ 18 miles from White River Marsh where they were raised.

On the left is Whooping Crane 7-17 and right, #3-17. Photo: B. Pennypacker

3-17 and 7-17 in early spring. Photo: Beverly Paulan

It seems this duo parted ways shortly after this photo was taken as #7-17 turned up a week later with male #4-14 (Peanut). Number 3-17 headed a bit south to Stephenson County, Illinois where he found Whooping crane 31-16!

Summer 2018: Sometime at the end of May, 3-17 separated from 31-16. Trackers did not detect his signal with 31-16 in June. His whereabouts were unknown until August 28, when he showed up at White River Marsh, where he was originally released in Fall 2017!

Fall 2018: 3-17 mainly associated with young male 30-16 during September and October. At the end of October, they began spending time with pair 5-12 and 67-15. 5-12 and 30-16 had previously migrated to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, so when the group of four disappeared, trackers wondered if that was their destination. However, 3-17 showed up at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama by himself in late November, while the other three birds were later seen at St. Marks. 3-17 seems to be mainly associating with W7-17 this winter. She spent the last summer in Minnesota- hopefully 3-17 can bring her back to Wisconsin next spring!

Spring 2019: 3-17 left Wheeler NWR in early March with a group of five other birds. They were seen passing through Illinois, and arrived at White River Marsh in late March! Trackers first saw 3-17 associating with female 67-15 on March 27.  

3-17 nested with new mate 67-15 at White River Marsh in mid-April. Unfortunately, the nest failed shortly after. The pair did not renest. 

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Crane #4-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: April 30, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Colleen says that early on this was a rather quiet bird and the smallest of the group. He loved the costume during outings at Patuxent.

Heather noticed this little fella acts first then thinks. When the gates to the wet pen were first opened to allow them access, he charged out then a half hour later he seemed reluctant to step over the wooden 2×4 threshold to get back inside the dry pen where their feeders are.

Eventually, his nature became similar to #3-17. A bit less aggressive and more confident. But very quick to follow 3-17’s lead to attack

Number 4-17 is a full sibling to number 6-17 and both came from eggs collected at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge under the forced re-nesting study where all first eggs are collected to encourage the crane parents to re-nest when black flies are no longer an issue.

The parents of whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 are Mom #32-09 and Dad #7-07.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes. Additionally, cranes 3-17 and 7-17 were also relocated and two days later, these two flew south to Fulton County, Kentucky, over 200 miles away!

Juveniles 4-17 & 6-17 spent the winter in Fulton County, Kentucky and on March 31st began heading north.

On April 22nd these two siblings were spotted by the OM team about a half mile from their camp at White River Marsh! They made it home!

Whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: H. Ray

The duo did a little bit of spring wandering throughout Wisconsin, even spending some time near International Crane Foundation headquarters! This was near the area on the Wisconsin River where they were translocated the previous fall, so it seems they remember both their original release location and area of translocation. After circling eastern Wisconsin, they decided to settle down for the summer in Brown County, Wisconsin

Fall 2018: In mid-November, 4-17 and 6-17 migrated to southeast Missouri together, but later hopped over the Mississippi River to the southern tip of Illinois. In early January, they moved south to western Kentucky. Who knows where they will go next?

Spring 2019: 4-17 and 6-17 returned to Wisconsin in late March and set up for the summer in Adams County. They later moved to Sauk County, where they associated with male 24-17. 

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Crane #6-17

Photo captured June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 2, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: She is independent to the max! She goes off exploring on her own. She can also be a pain in the butt as she initiate challenges and “face-off’s” with others in the small group.

Number 6-17 is a full sibling to number 4-17 and both came from eggs collected at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge under the forced re-nesting study where all first eggs are collected to encourage the crane parents to re-nest when black flies are no longer an issue.

The parents of whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 are Mom #32-09 and Dad #7-07.

Colleen describes #6-17 as “sweet easy going. Go with the flow.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes.

Juveniles 4-17 & 6-17 spent the winter in Fulton County, Kentucky and on March 31st began heading north.

On April 22nd these two siblings were spotted by the OM team about a half mile from their camp at White River Marsh! They made it home!

Whooping cranes 4-17 and 6-17 in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: H. Ray

The duo did a little bit of spring wandering throughout Wisconsin, even spending some time near International Crane Foundation headquarters! This was near the area on the Wisconsin River where they were translocated the previous fall, so it seems they remember both their original release location and area of translocation. After circling eastern Wisconsin, they decided to settle down for the summer in Brown County, Wisconsin

Fall 2018: In mid-November, 6-17 and 4-17 migrated to southeast Missouri together, but later hopped over the Mississippi River to the southern tip of Illinois. In early January, they moved south to western Kentucky. Who knows where they will go next?

Spring 2019: 6-17 and 4-17 returned to Wisconsin in late March and set up for the summer in Adams County. They later moved to Sauk County, where they associated with male 24-17. 

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Crane #7-17

Photo taken June 19 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 3, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young girl crane was very clingy while at Patuxent. She is very alert and can appear nervous and fidgety at times.

She has gone for a swim several times in the large pond at White River Marsh.

She came from an egg collected at Necedah NWR under the forced re-nesting study and her parents are male #9-05 and female #13-03.

As this young crane developed over the summer, Colleen described #7-17 similar to #6-17: “sweet easy going. Go with the flow. Nondescript.”

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes before flying south to Fulton County, Kentucky, over 200 miles away!

Cranes 3-17 & 7-17 spent the winter at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge near Decatur, Alabama.

Spring 2018: In early April, they began heading north along with #69-16. They arrived about a week later in Juneau County and spent a couple of weeks in and around the refuge before heading east. On April 25th 3-17 & 7-17 were confirmed in Marquette County, WI ~ 18 miles from White River Marsh where they were raised.

on the left is Whooping Crane 7-17 and right, #3-17. Photo: B. Pennypacker

3-17 and 7-17 in early spring. Photo: Beverly Paulan

On May 2nd, Heather spotted #7-17 along the flooded Fox River in Princeton, WI and she was with male Whooping crane #4-14!

Female 7-17 is on the right and Peanut (#4-14) is on the left. Photo: H. Ray

Summer 2018: 7-17 and 4-14 spent their summer together near the Fox River in Green Lake County.

4-14 and 7-17 take off. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Fall 2018: On November 9, 7-17’s GSM tracker showed she had departed Wisconsin and had moved to northern Henderson County, Kentucky, right on the edge of the Ohio River. 4-14 was later confirmed to be with her. In early January, they moved south to northwest Hopkins County, Kentucky.

4-14 and 7-17 prior to fall migration. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Spring 2019: In April, 7-17 returned to Green Lake County, Wisconsin with male 4-14.

7-17 and mate 4-14 were seen nesting building on pilot Bev Paulan’s flight on April 16. However, the nest failed and they were seen off the nest on Bev’s flight on May 3. They spent the rest of the summer together on their territory in Green Lake County, Wisconsin.

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Crane #8-17

Photo taken June 19, 2017 by Dr. Glenn Olsen

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 3, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Hatched the same day as #7-17. Her parents are EMP whoopers 12-03 & 29-09. As a very tiny crane chick, she was cute and happy and loved to play in the grass.

She could, at times, be uncooperative about coming out of her chick run but that seemed to be a phase and she got over it soon enough.

The smallest of the group – noticeably. Colleen described this female as “pugnacious yet timid to a point then could get an attitude. Initially afraid of water. Stuck to the costume the longest. Very clingy. Definitely bottom of the pecking order in terms of the social structure.

Fall 2017: In late November, the decision was made to separate/split up the cohort in hopes doing so would disrupt their social structure and encourage them to migrate south. Number 1-17, along with 2-17 and 8-17 were left at White River Marsh, while cranes 4-17 and 6-17 were moved southwest to an area along the Wisconsin River, which held thousands of Sandhill cranes before flying south to Fulton County, Kentucky, over 200 miles away!

Cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were eventually captured and relocated to Goose Pond in Greene County, Indiana. Brooke and Colleen drove overnight so the cranes were not stressed terribly by the move. They were released at Goose pond and 30 minutes later the trio took flight and flew south to Talladega County, Alabama where they spent the winter.

Spring 2018: On March 31st, all three Whooping cranes began heading north. By the beginning of May it became apparent cranes 1-17, 2-17 and 8-17 were lost. These three cranes were transported last fall from Wisconsin to Greene County, Indiana and therefore, did not know the way back to Wisconsin.

The trio flew north to Sangamon County, Illinois where they stayed for several weeks before 1-17 and 2-17 headed northwest to Iowa. When they arrived, 8-17 was not with them. 8-17 was last sighted May 8.

Summer 2018: 8-17’s whereabouts are unknown

Fall 2018: On November 16, 8-17 surprised everyone by arriving at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama! We never learned where she spent her summer, but we’re very glad to see she’s still alive! However, she did not stay at Wheeler too long- on December 15, she was reported in Meigs County, Tennessee- why is she moving north? She was only reported in Tennessee for two days, and then her whereabouts were unknown until January 16- when she showed up in Crisp County, Georgia, with a large group of Sandhill Cranes! This bird is certainly doing her best to give trackers a run for their money!

8-17 checks out a Sandhill in Crisp County, Georgia. Photo: Mark McShane

Spring 2019: After a long period of not hearing 8-17’s whereabouts, we finally learned where she spends her summers! In July, a Whooping Crane was reported in Winnebago County, Iowa! Bands later confirmed this mystery bird was 8-17. 

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Crane #19-17

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: May 17, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This fella is the oldest in the Parent-Reared group of 2017 – Oldest by 2 days. He was transported to Wisconsin on September 12th.

The same day they arrived they were banded by Richard Urbanek and given a brief health exam by Patuxent’s Dr. Glenn Olsen. Once this was complete he was placed in a temporary holding pen for two days to allow him and the others to recover from the stress of being moved from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland to Wisconsin.

Whooping crane #19-17 and another male #25-17 were transported to Marathon County, WI on September 14th and released near two adult female cranes, #28-05 and #2-15.

Juvenile crane #19-17 has two white bands on his right leg, which you can see on the crane on the left. #25-17 is on the right.

Over the next few weeks these two formed a bond with the two females and actually followed them south on migration!

Fall 2017: By the end of November this foursome of Whooping cranes had arrived in a lovely wetland in Jackson County, Alabama – some 700+ miles to the southeast!

Spring 2018: Over the winter, these two young male Whooping cranes continued to associate with the two female cranes 2-15 & 28-05 as well as a third male crane, number 37-07. On April 8th the two young cranes began their northward migration and we spotted in Christian County, Kentucky by Craniac Cyndi Rutledge, who sent along the following photograph of the two.

Whooping cranes 19-17 & 25-17 in Christian County, KY on April 8, 2018.

On April 24th #19-17 and his pal #25-17 had flown north and were spotted in Dakota County, Minnesota. Clearly these two are in no rush to return to the area they were released in last fall.

Summer 2018: In mid-May, 19-17 and 25-17 returned to Marathon County, Wisconsin where they were released in 2017. They moved a little way northwest to Clark County, Wisconsin, where they associated with female 36-17. However, they left her behind when they returned to Minnesota in August- this time, Scott County on the Minnesota River!

Fall 2018: In late September, 19-17 and 25-17 crossed the border back into Polk County, Wisconsin where they remained until October 15 when they flew south to Kane County, Illinois. They remained in Kane County until early November, when they returned to their previous wintering grounds in Jackson County, Alabama. They were later joined here by pair 37-07 and 17-11. On January 18, 19-17’s companion 25-17 was euthanized after hitting a powerline.

Spring 2019: 19-17 returned to Marathon County, Wisconsin where he was originally released in early April. He is now associating with 28-05 and 2-15, the females he was released with! 

Unfortunately, in May, 19-17 was found dead in Marathon County. Cause of death is suspected to be powerline collision, same as his companion 25-17.

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Crane #24-17

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: May 19, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young male crane also arrived in Wisconsin on September 12th. Following a quick health check and procedure where he received his permanent legbands, he was placed in a pen for a week until a release location could be found.

Number 24-17 was released September 20th in Dodge County, Wisconsin in a marsh where adult female whooping crane #66-15 had been spending time. All Parent-Reared cranes were released at roost locations so that they would have safe roosting areas overnight and until they formed associations with the target release cranes.

OM’s Heather Ray monitored this crane post-release and reports that over the many hours he was observed he was only ever seen with Sandhill cranes and never with the target release adult, number 66-15.

This was the first flight this young male crane made. Photo: H. Ray

Three days after this young crane was released he left the marsh for the first time (photo above). He began to associate with a Sandhill pair that had one chick of their own so perhaps they were more open to taking in a second youngster. Each day he flew to a field approximately 4 miles away to forage and then he would return to a small pond to roost. The pond was not too far from the marsh he was released at.

Fall 2017: Number 24-17 migrated south in mid-November and flew to Jasper County, Indiana. This is an area frequented each fall and spring by thousands of Sandhill cranes who congregate at the Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. But get this – He was seen with two adult Whooping cranes!

It seems that somewhere along the way, or perhaps when he arrived, he managed to find #71-16 and male #63-15. Here’s a photo of the three of them together in Jasper County, Indiana.

Parent-Reared crane #24-17 on the left with adults 71-16 and 63-15 on the right. Photo: Gary Soper

In late December adult #63-15 led this young crane southwest to Kaskaskia Island – his usual wintering location. The adult female these two had been associating with carried on to Jackson County, Indiana.

Spring 2018: By early April, number 24-17 was heading north! His pal, number 63-15 returned to Wisconsin about a month earlier so 24-17 is traveling on his own.

Summer 2018: 24-17 spent most of the summer in Rock County, Wisconsin with Sandhill Cranes.

Fall 2018: In mid-November, 24-17 migrated to Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana with Sandhill Cranes. He remained there until the end of November, when his PTT transmitter showed that he moved south to Alachua County, Florida!

Spring 2019: 24-17 returned to Wisconsin in early April. He initially arrived in Lafayette County, but in late April moved to Sauk County. Cranes 4-17 and 6-17 joined him for the summer.

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Crane #25-17

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: May 20, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Number 25-17 arrived in Wisconsin on September 12th along with four other Parent-Reared cranes.

The same day they arrived they were banded by Richard Urbanek and given a brief health exam by Patuxent’s Dr. Glenn Olsen. Once this was complete he was placed in a temporary holding pen for two days to allow him and the others to recover from the stress of being moved from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland to Wisconsin.

Whooping crane #25-17 and another male #19-17 were transported to Marathon County, WI on September 14th and released near two adult female cranes, #28-05 and #2-15.

Over the next few weeks these two formed a bond with the two females and actually followed them south on migration!

Fall 2017: By the end of November this foursome of Whooping cranes had arrived in a lovely wetland in Jackson County, Alabama – some 700+ miles to the southeast!

19-17 and 25-17 followed two adult female Whooping cranes on a southward migration.

Spring 2018: Over the winter, these two young male Whooping cranes continued to associate with the two female cranes 2-15 & 28-05 as well as a third male crane, number 37-07. On April 8th the two young cranes began their northward migration and we spotted in Christian County, Kentucky by Craniac Cyndi Rutledge, who sent along the following photograph of the two.

Whooping cranes 19-17 & 25-17 in Christian County, KY on April 8, 2018.

On April 24th #25-17 and his pal #19-17 had flown north and were spotted in Dakota County, Minnesota. Clearly these two are in no rush to return to the area they were released in last fall.

Summer 2018: In mid-May, 25-17 and 19-17 returned to Marathon County, Wisconsin, where they were released in 2017. They moved a little way northwest to Clark County, Wisconsin, where they associated with female 36-17. However, they left her behind when they returned to Minnesota in August- this time, Scott County on the Minnesota River!

Fall 2018: In late September, 25-17 and 19-17 crossed the border back into Polk County Wisconsin, where they remained until October 15 when they flew south to Kane County, Illinois. They remained in Kane County until early November, when they returned to their previous wintering grounds in Jackson County, Alabama. They were later joined here by pair 37-07 and 17-11.

Unfortunately, on January 18, 25-17 was seen injured. When biologists went to check on him, it was determined that he had likely hit a powerline and was not going to recover from his injuries, and thus was euthanized.

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Crane #26-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 21, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young female crane was released in Marquette County, Wisconsin on September 18th along with male #28-17. She was pretty much a home body and didn’t move around much at all. She was never seen associating with the two adult target cranes: Male #10-11 and female #27-14, however, in late October, she was spotted with two male Whooping cranes, #4-14 and #11-15.

Two males: 11-15 & 4-14 land very close to Parent-Reared female chick #26-17 in Marquette County, WI. Photo: H. Ray, Operation Migration

This young female crane migrated south, possibly with the two adult male cranes, #4-14 and 11-15 to Wabash County, Illinois. Sadly, this young female crane was found dead mid-December in Wabash County, Indiana.

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Crane #28-17

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: May 23, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Released in Marquette County, Wisconsin on September 18th along with female #26-17 and immediately began a game of hide and seek. The two came out of their crates side-by-side but never associated with each other.

26-17 and 38-17 each in a crate, are carried into the area for release.

The day after this young male was released he began a game of hide and seek and was never seen again by trackers. He was spotted a couple of times by Wisconsin DNR pilots during aerial surveys and then by a birder in Walworth County, Wisconsin in late November.

This is the last time 28-17 was seen at the release location in Marquette County, WI. Photo: H. Ray

 

28-17 was spotted in Walworth County, WI in late November by Beth Martin.

This was the only Whooping crane chick in the 2017 cohort that did not receive a remote tracking device so we have to rely on public sightings like the one above to verify his identity.

Winter 2017/18: Whooping crane 28-17 finally appeared in south Florida in late January 2018. He was associating with three Sandhill cranes but he wasn’t too far from the area where 16-12 is known to be. A bit further south is another young Parent-Reared Whooping Crane, #72-17. Here’s hoping the three of them actually find each other!

Spring 2018: At the end of May, this young crane was spotted in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

Summer 2018: 28-17 was observed in June by DNR scientists a few times at Grand River Marsh, where he was originally released. However, he was on the move a lot and was difficult to keep track of!

28-17 hangs out near International Crane Foundation Headquarters before migration. Photo: Ted Thousand

Fall 2018: At the end of September, 28-17 began staging with a large group of Sandhills in Sauk County, Wisconsin right down the road from International Crane Foundation Headquarters! In mid-November, he was seen near Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in northern Indiana, where he remained throughout the winter. He has frequently been seen associating with 39-17. Both birds have mainly associated with Sandhill Cranes since being released, so hopefully these two will stay together!

28-17 and 39-17 dance in Jasper County, Indiana. Photo: Gary Soper

Spring 2019: 28-17 was first seen at Horicon Marsh on March 13 with male 16-11. He likely departed Jasper-Pulaski with 16-11 and his chicks 73-18 and 74-18 the day before, making him one of the first Whooping Cranes to return to Wisconsin in 2019! The chicks separated immediately, though 28-17 and 16-11 stayed together a few days before 16-11 went off in search of a mate. Will 28-17 remain at Horicon Marsh this summer? 

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Crane #30-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 26, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young female Whooping crane arrived with the second shipment of cranes from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on October 3rd.

A couple of days after she arrived she was moved to Winnebago County, Wisconsin to be released in the same wetland as #72-17 was spending time following his release a couple of weeks earlier.

Number 30-17 hid for a couple of days but eventually came out from her hiding spot and began associating Sandhill cranes. Jo-Anne Bellemer monitored this crane for several weeks and only ever saw her by herself, or with a small group of Sandhills.

30-17 was released in Winnebago County, WI. Photo: J. Bellemer

During the first week of November, she began heading southwest and arrived at a location along the Mississippi River. She stayed at this location until the middle of the month and then continued south – and continue she did. All the way to the southernmost tip of Louisiana!

Take a look at her migration map:

She is in a coastal area of Louisiana that is very remote and her tracking device allows us to keep tabs on her location so we’ll update this as soon as she decides to head north in the spring.

Spring 2018: Unfortunately, the carcass of 30-17 was recovered in late April during migration in Lake County, Illinois. The cause of death is believed to be predation.

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Crane #36-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: June 8, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young female was raised by adult Whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. She was shipped to Wisconsin with four others on October 3rd when they were banded upon arrival and placed in a temporary holding pen.

Two days later, she and female PR #37-17 were transferred to north Marathon County, WI and released in the vicinity of two male yearling cranes. Numbers 29-16 and 39-16 were Parent-Reared cranes from the 2016.

These two juvenile cranes were monitored by interns with the International Crane Foundation and they reported they observed a “loose association” with the two yearling males.

The two adult males on the left and two juvenile Whooping cranes on the right. Photo: Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR

They were observed in the same area several times but a bond didn’t seem to form and the two males flew south to the wintering location they used last year – leaving the two young female cranes behind.

Number 36-17 began heading south along with 37-17 on November 12. Both have GSM remote tracking devices so we are able to see when/where they are with good accuracy.

Unfortunately, the remains of 37-17 were collected by Necedah National Wildlife Refuge biologist Brad Strobel on November 13th from Necedah, Wisconsin where it appears she collided with a powerline.

Whooping crane 36-17 continued south and flew to Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in northern Indiana. She remained there until the 2017/18 polar vortex moved south and she then flew further south to the panhandle area of Florida where she remained for the winter.

Spring 2018: 36-17 returned to Clark County, Wisconsin near the area was she was released in May, but she did a bit of exploring first! Her satellite transmitter showed that when she headed north, she kept going north- until she came to the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior! After a few days there, she decided she didn’t want to cross the lake and turned around to head back to Clark County after a few detours. For much of the summer, she associated with 19-17 and 25-17, but she did not follow them when they returned to Minnesota in August.

Fall 2018: In October, 36-17 moved east to Marathon County where she began associating with female-female pair 28-05 and 2-15. In mid-November, the group of three migrated first to southeast Indiana, then continued further south.

Unfortunately, 36-17’s remains were recovered in late November after the group of three was roosting on a farm in Kentucky. Cause of death is currently unknown, but a powerline collision is suspected.

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Crane #37-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: June 16, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This young female was raised by adult Whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. She was shipped to Wisconsin with four others on October 3rd when they were banded upon arrival and placed in a temporary holding pen.

Two days later, she and female PR #36-17 were transferred to north Marathon County, WI and released in the vicinity of two male yearling cranes. Numbers 29-16 and 39-16 were Parent-Reared cranes from the 2016 release and had been hanging out in the Marathon County location for approximately 3 weeks.

These two juvenile cranes were monitored by interns with the International Crane Foundation and they reported they observed a “loose association” with the two yearling males. They were observed in the same area several times but a bond didn’t seem to form and the two males flew south to the wintering location they used last year – leaving the two young female cranes behind.

Number 37-17 began heading south along with 36-17 on November 12. Both have GSM remote tracking devices so we are able to see when/where they are with good accuracy.

Unfortunately, the remains of 37-17 were collected by Necedah National Wildlife Refuge biologist Brad Strobel on November 13th from Necedah, Wisconsin where it appears she collided with a powerline.

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Crane #38-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: June 18, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: She was hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and transported to Wisconsin on October 3rd. She and number 39-17 were released at the same location on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin on October 5th in hopes they would find adult crane #63-15.

Whooping crane 38-17 takes her first flight. Photo: H. Ray

The two did not stay together for long and number 38-17 soon moved a bit southwest of her release location, while #39-17 moved to the east side of the refuge. Both spent time with Sandhill cranes.

Number 38-17 was associating with a couple of Sandhill cranes – One appeared to have a broken wing and couldn’t migrate south.

See the Sandhill in the middle? Note the droopy wing? Photo: Doug Pellerin

By the end of December one of the Sandhill’s had left and number 38-17 and the bird with the broken wing were still at Horicon despite frigid temperatures. A plan was worked out to capture the young Whooping crane, however, only the Sandhill crane was captured. It was taken to a rehab facility for examination and to determine if the wing could be repaired.

Meanwhile, number 38-17 continued to spend time at Horicon and as of January 8, 2018 she was still there. Several capture attempts have been made but she has managed to evade capture so far. ICF’s Hillary Thompson reports 38-17 appears to be eating the corn at the bait station and she is likely eating snow for water. She ended up surviving the cold Wisconsin winter and never migrated south!

Spring 2018: In mid-March #38-17 was joined by two Sandhill cranes. Let’s hope she finds a Whooping crane at the marsh this year and actually migrates south this coming fall.

Summer 2018: After spending most of the summer with Sandhill Cranes, 38-17 joined Whooping Crane 63-15 at the end of November! We are all hoping she will continue to stick with him and migrate south this fall!

38-17 and new friend 63-15 hang out in Dodge County. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Fall 2018: On November 21, 38-17’s GSM tracker shows she has left Wisconsin! On November 26, the transmitter shows she arrived at 63-15’s wintering grounds in Randolph County, Illinois. Shortly after, the two of the were confirmed to be together. We’re very excited that 38-17 decided to migrate!

Spring 2019: Satellite data from 38-17 indicates that she departed Illinois and returned to Horicon Marsh on March 24. We are so glad that she has completed her first migration! Shortly after arriving, it was confirmed that she was still with male 63-15. 

63-15 and 38-17 dance together. Photo: Doug Pellerin
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Crane #39-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: June 22, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: She was hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and transported to Wisconsin on October 3rd. She and number 38-17 were released at the same location on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin on October 5th in hopes they would find adult crane #63-15.

This young crane flew off shortly after release and roosted approximately 300 meters from 38-17. The following day, Heather was able to get a visual on both of them and confirmed they were alright.

Over the next few weeks, this young Whooping Crane traveled to the east side of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge with a small flock of Sandhill cranes. She was never observed with another Whooping crane.

On December 9th, number 39-17 began heading south and in one day covered approximately 200 miles before arriving at Jasper Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area in Jasper County, Indiana.

As of mid-January, she is still at this location.

Spring 2018: This young crane headed north – unfortunately, into Michigan!

Whooping crane 39-17 ventured north into Michigan. We’ll have to wait to see if she heads back south to go around the lake and into Wisconsin.

Spring 2018: Thankfully, in late April, 39-17 changed course and came back around Lake Michigan into Wisconsin. On April 29th, she settled in Outagamie County, Wisconsin.

Summer 2018: 39-17 remained for most of the summer in Outagamie County, Wisconsin with Sandhill Cranes.

Fall 2018: On November 13, 39-17 migrated to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in northern Indiana, where she spent all last winter. She has frequently been associated with male 28-17. Both birds have mainly associated with Sandhill Cranes since being released, so hopefully these two will stay together! In February, a cold snap sent her south to Jackson County, Indiana.

28-17 and 39-17 dance in Jasper County, Indiana. Photo: Gary Soper

Spring 2019: In late March, 39-17 returned to Wisconsin . . . and kept going, all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! She has so far spent April moving between the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and even crossing into Canada! 

Unfortunately, 39-17 was found dead of a gunshot wound on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada on May 5. The case is currently under investigation by Canadian authorities. Anyone with information concerning the shooting should contact the Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). The Whooping Crane Conservation Association and International Crane Foundation are offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

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Crane #72-17

Sex: Male
Hatch Date: May 23, 2017

Personality and Characteristics: Number 72-17 was hatched and raised by adult Whooping Cranes at the International Crane Foundation. His nickname is Amethyst.

He was released in Winnebago County, WI on October 6th and the next day was observed with Sandhill Cranes exploring the surrounding area.

Whooping Crane #72-17 (aka Amethyst). Photo: J. Bellemer

About a week later #30-17 was released near him but the two were never observed associating.

He began heading south on November 16th and only 4 days later he arrived in central Florida – some 1200 miles south.

Whooping crane 72-17’s migration route south.

Winter 2017/18: Whooping Crane 72-17 is confirmed in Okeechobee County, FL along with Sandhill cranes.

Spring 2018: Whooping crane 72-17 began heading north in early April. Four days later, he took a right turn over north Kentucky and eventually ended up in Michigan. We’ll have to see if he eventually finds his way back to Wisconsin where he’ll have a much better chance at finding other Whooping cranes.

As of June, this young Whooping crane is still in Michigan.

Summer 2018: 72-17 remained in Ingham County, Michigan for the summer

Fall 2018: On November 20th, 72-17’s transmitter showed he was heading south! He was in Jay County, Indiana, for a few days before arriving in Jefferson County in northeast Tennessee on the 29th, where he remained for the winter.

Spring 2019: On March 12, satellite data from 72-17 shows that he has returned to Michigan! He spent most of the spring wandering around the lower part of the state, but settled in Saginaw County.

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Crane #W3-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: May 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This youngster was born to Whooping cranes 24-09 and 42-09 in May 2017 and survived to fledge. The Monitoring and Management team was unable to capture the young crane to place identifying legbands on it and to draw blood to determine gender so we’re not sure if it’s a boy or a girl crane.

It flew south with its parents to their traditional wintering area in Hopkins County, Kentucky and then returned north with them in April of 2018. The adults promptly and not very politely kicked her out of their territory so that they could breed. This youngster will need to find its own mate and territory!

Summer 2018: W3-17 spent the summer in Adams County after being kicked out by her parents, only about a mile away from their nesting territory. In early July, she was captured and was given leg bands and a radio transmitter for tracking purposes. And yes, the blood test showed that she was a girl!

She spent most of the summer with male 39-16 (who died during the summer) or Sandhill Cranes.

Fall 2018: W3-17 began associating with male 11-15. In mid-November, the two showed up at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama where they spent the winter- a new pair?

W3-17 hangs out with new friend 11-15 and some Sandhills in the fall. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Spring 2019: W3-17 left Wheeler NWR with a group of 5 other birds in early March. They were seen passing through northern Illinois, and arrived at White River Marsh by the end of the month. She remains with male 11-15.

W3-17 separated from 11-15 in late April, and instead began associating with male 30-16! This pair is the first wild-hatched/parent-reared pair.  

W3-17 nested with new mate 30-16 at White River Marsh in April. This was the first nest between a parent-reared bird and a wild-hatched bird- the first nest where neither parent was raised by costumes! Despite the young ages of the parents, they produced a fertile egg. The pair was seen off nest in mid-May. Eggshell fragments were found on the nest, but no chicks were seen so it is inconclusive whether a hatch occurred. 

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Crane #W7-17

Sex: Female
Hatch Date: June 2017

Personality and Characteristics: This youngster was born at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to Whooping Cranes 24-08 and 14-08 in June 2017 and survived to fledge. Blood draws revealed that this chick is a girl!

She flew south to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, her parents usual wintering spot. They were first seen on the refuge November 26th.

Spring 2018: In early March, the family group began heading back north and was seen in Edwards County in southern Illinois. However, 14-08 and 24-08 left W7-17 there as they continued to migrate north back to Necedah! On her own, W7-17 seemed to get a little lost as she next showed up in Wright County, Minnesota!

Summer 2018: W7-17 spent the summer associating with Sandhill Cranes in Minnesota.

Fall 2018: W7-17 left Minnesota in mid-October, and was the first Whooping Crane to arrive at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama on October 24th! She may not have known how to get back to Wisconsin, but she clearly knows how to get back to her wintering grounds. She mainly associates with male 3-17, so hopefully he can bring her back to Wisconsin in 2019.

Spring 2019: W7-17 left Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge with a group of 5 other birds, including male 3-17. They were seen migrating together in Illinois, but when he was first seen at White River Marsh in Wisconsin, he had a new mate. What happened to W7-17? In early May, she reappeared in Burnett County, in far northern Wisconsin!

After a long period of no sightings in the spring, W7-17 resurfaced in Sherburne County, Minnesota! While trackers were hoping she would stay in Wisconsin this year, she had spent all last summer in this area so it’s not a big surprise that she would return.  

 She returned to Wisconsin and spent late summer and fall with Sandhill Cranes in Burnett County.  

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