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Spring 2012 Updates


Chick W1-12, the first chick hatched this year, with parents.

Chick W1-12, the first chick hatched this year, with parents on June 16, 2012.

Photo by Eva Szyszkoski

June 16, 2012: Four pairs were observed with chicks.


June 13, 2012: Three pairs were seen with chicks, chick W7-12 was not seen. The pair that was seen incubating yesterday was not on their nest today although an egg could be seen in the nest.


June 12, 2012: Four pairs seen with chicks. Pair 16-02/16-07 were seen without their chick, so chick Chick W9-12 is probably lost. One pair still incubating eggs. One pair that had been incubating were seen without a chick.


June 7, 2102: Five chicks were seen with parents, including W8-12 and the newly hatched W9-12. Two pairs are still incubating. Table of 2012 Nesting Activity


June 6, 2012: A new chick hatched: W9-12 from pair 16-02/16-07. Three other chicks were observed with parents. W8-12 was not seen but the parents were acting like the chick was present. Two pairs continue incubating eggs.


June 5, 2012: Four chick were observed with parents attending - including W8-12. Three pairs are sitting on nests incubating eggs.


June 1, 2012: The same as yesterday. Again, W8-12 was not seen but its parents were close together. We have three chicks and six pairs incubating nests.


May 31, 2012: Three chicks observed with parents (W1, W5, and W7). W8-12 was not observed although its parents were seen closer together. Six pairs remain on nests incubating eggs.


May 30, 2012: Four chicks are alive (W1-12; W5-12; W7-12; W8-12), 4 pairs are on overdue nests, and 4 pairs are incubating active nests.


May 26, 2012: Four chicks are alive; 2 or possibly 3 pairs are sitting on overdue nests (probably infertile eggs); and 4 pairs are incubating active nests. Table of 2012 Nesting Activity



Volunteer Pilots Donating Flights to Elevate Conservation


Information for the nesting updates was obtained from the twice daily flights flown by LightHawk.


LightHawk is a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that provides donated flights to support conservation projects.  The organization was founded in 1979 to assist diverse conservation efforts by providing aircraft and pilots, resulting in information and images that may not have otherwise been possible.


The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership would like to thank Lighthawk and participating LightHawk pilots for use of their donated aircraft time and piloting skills.  Without their help we would not be able to conduct the intensive whooping crane nest monitoring needed for our current research.


This monitoring will greatly assist in a better understanding of factors contributing to nest failure, which may be critical to the long-term success of the project.


More information about LightHawk can be found here: http://www.lighthawk.org/


Donations to help fund LightHawk’s great conservation work can be made here: http://www.lighthawk.org/donate.html


May 18, 2012: Eight pairs are on nests (Pair 11-02/8-09 not reported, nest may have failed) and 4 pairs appear to be with chicks.


May 17, 2012: With 2 new chicks since the 14th, there are now 4 pairs with chicks. The new chicks are W5-12 (parents 13-02/18-02) and W6-12 (Parents 16-04/4-09). Nine pairs are on nests; one of those is a new nest for pair 8-09/11-02. Table of 2012 Nesting Activity

May 16: Nine pairs are on nests, incubating eggs. Four pairs with chicks - although, during the flight two pairs looked like they were attending chicks but the chicks could not be seen.


May 14, 2012: We now have 2 pairs with chicks. Since the last nest flight chicks W2-12 and W3-12 were lost (the chicks in the photo). However, W4-12 is a newly hatched chick (parents 14-08 and 24-08) and the first chick hatched this year, W1-12, is alive and well. Nine pairs are still on nests, incubating eggs - including a new renest for pair 8-04/19-05. Table of 2012 Nesting Activity


May 9, 2012: Twelve cranes on nests, 1 pair in territory but not on their nest, and 2 pairs with chicks.


May 7, 2012: Another chick hatched! Bird 42-09 has a chick in the nest. The chick that hatched on April 30 remains with its parents. Thirteen cranes were observed on nests and incubating. Since May 4, 1 nest appears to have failed but 2 new nests were observed. See the Table of 2012 Nesting Activity to see which pairs may soon hatch a chick.


May 4, 2012: Thirteen cranes were observed on nests and incubating. Pair 12-02/19-04 were seen with their chick in their territory. One pair was near, but not on, their nest that had 1 egg. One pair was actively engaged in nest building.



Chicks W2-12 and W3-12 hatched on May 7 and 8. Parent female 42-09.

Photo by ICF; Eva Szyszkoski

April 30, 2012: Nesting Update

A WCEP Whooping Crane chick hatched today in the wild in Wood County, WI! The chick (#W1-12) was observed by Eva Szyszkoski, International Crane Foundation Tracking Field Manager. The parents are #12-02 and #19-04. This is quite a special hatch, because the parents have been dubbed the “infertile pair”. They have consistently laid eggs, but their eggs are always infertile. Not this time!

The pair proved to be good parents in 2010, when their infertile egg was swapped with a fertile egg and the pair hatched and raised the chick to fledging (#W3-10)—one of only three fledged chicks in the WCEP population. Keep your fingers crossed they’ll do it again. See the News Release for more.


Table of 2012 Nesting Activity


April 25 ,2012: Nesting Update

Fourteen nests have incubating pairs; this includes 1 new nest and 1 new nest that is a renest. Three nests that had incubating pairs on April 23, appear to be abandoned. Table of 2012 Nesting Activity


April 25, 2012: Update on 2011 Whooping Cranes

Eight ultralight-led birds located today; all in Wisconsin. Only one (1-11) is unaccounted for.


April 24, 2012: Update on 2011 Whooping Cranes (i.e., 2011 Hatch Year Birds). Six of the nine ultralight-led birds are in Wisconsin and one (#7-11) was last seen in Minnesota on April 17. Five of the DAR birds are in Wisconsin and and one was last seen in Illinois on March 26.


April 23, 2012: Fifteen nests were observed, including two new nests. One of the new nests is a first attempt (pair 10-09/17-07) and the other new nest is a renesting pair (pair 18-03/36-09).


April 22, 2012: Thirteen nests were observed, including one new nest. The new nest is a renesting pair (pair is 18-03/36-09).


April 18, 2012: Map showing the locations of the nine "2011" whooping cranes migrating from Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. See News Release "Spring Migration is Underway for the “Class of 2011” Whooping Cranes"


Read more about the nine migrating birds and how we document their migration progess in Operation Migration's Field Journal (scroll to April 17 and April 14).


April 17, 2012: 10 nests observed with birds on nests. Eggs confirmed at 2 nests. See Operation Migration Field Journal for photos ( scroll to April 19)


April 15 ,2012:

Three new nests found and on one of those nests an egg was visible. Pairs were seen on 7 previously found nests and eggs could be seen at 2 of those nests.


Summary: 10 nests observed with birds on nests; 3 nests with eggs; 3 new nests found.


March 29, 2012: The first Whooping Crane nest of the season is confirmed! Bev Paulan of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conducted an aerial tracking flight on Monday (March 26) and located pair #3-07 and #38-08 (a Direct Autumn Release bird) incubating on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Many other pairs have been observed nest building, but no other nests have yet been confirmed.


March 22, 2012: The 9 juvenile Whooping cranes at Wheeler NWR in north Alabama are beginning to exhibit signs of restlessness.


Monthly Update: Feb. 20 to March 20 - provides all known WCEP whooping locations as of March 20.


March 16: The number of Whooping Cranes that have completed their spring migration continues to increase. As of last night, around 40 birds have been documented back on their territories on and around the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. This afternoon, Eva Szyszkoski, Tracking Field Manager for the International Crane Foundation and WCEP, did a check with a handheld antenna bringing the total up to at least 53, as more cranes were detected in flight over the International Crane Foundation's headquarters heading north. Perhaps more will pass over before the day is done....stay tuned for more migration news!