View Full Version : Class of 2009 Baby Whooping Cranes
05-26-2009, 12:31 PM
This year's baby Whoopers are still hatching at Patuxent, Md. Number 901, the first to hatch is now starting his circle pen training with the Ultralight. This video shows how he just can't resist the mealworms being fed by the puppet. :)
In June, a certain number will be shipped to Necedah WLR in Wisconsin where their training will continue until fall, when they will follow the Ultralight in migration to Florida.
05-26-2009, 11:03 PM
How very interesting. I loved watching just how they condition the chicks.
That #901 chick is so cute.
Please keep us updated.
06-26-2009, 07:44 PM
Eight young Whooping Crane chicks have arrived at Necedah from Patuxent, MD. This first group is called Cohort One. They made their first flight aboard an air conditioned turbo prop Cessna in individual crates. It was a five hour trip for them with one stop for refueling. When they landed at Necedah "International" Airport they were moved to a pre-cooled van for transport to the refuge, over an hour away. They all handled the trip well and when let out, settled down into the cool grass.
Two chicks in this group hatched from eggs rescued from abandoned nests at Necedah, then shipped to MD.
There will be two more groups to arrive the first part of July.
07-13-2009, 05:14 PM
The third group of baby Whooping Crane chicks arrived at Necedah yesterday. They will continue their training that started at Patuxent, MD where they hatched.
At NWLR there are runways where they are taught to run and eventually fly. Occasionally a chick or two will wander off into the marsh and need to be rescued. There are also two older cranes from 2002 who keep wanting to investigate the new arrivals.
Here is a photo of some of them in training at their new home.
07-24-2009, 11:44 AM
Both wild chicks hatched at Necedah this spring have disappeared and are not with their parents when last checked. :(
07-26-2009, 03:41 PM
This is indeed sad news. Any idea what happened to the chicks?
08-08-2009, 09:47 PM
This year there are 23 chicks being trained in 3 separate cohorts. This is the largest group of chicks ever trained for Operation Migration.
Once in awhile there is a chick that has a mind of his own. This year's No. 918 loves to wander off the end of the runway into the marsh. There is one pair of adults that have staked out the area for their own. Often they are seen checking out the new chick before they can be driven off and he be lured back.
Number 918 has the best of everything. He gets to "fly" with the aircraft, play with his buddies, then go visit his adoptive parents. Then the costumed person comes out and he gets lured back to his pen with treats.
Why not leave him out there with the curious adults? They have already abandoned their nest, and even though they seem interested there is too much vegetation to be able to keep an eye on him. He is too valuable to the Whooping Crane migratory flock to take that risk.
The two wild hatched chicks were most likely taken by predators. :mad:
08-09-2009, 09:25 PM
Thanks Pat, for the update!
Sad about the 2 chicks that were loss.
Please continue to keep us informed.
08-12-2009, 08:49 PM
This is a promotional video about Operation Migration.
08-25-2009, 03:08 PM
That video gave me chills. Thanks for the link!
09-04-2009, 06:55 PM
Twenty three chicks were brought to Necedah and until Sept. 1 their survival rate was 100%. It is not realistic to expect that though.
Two of the youngest chicks hatched always stuck close to the ultralight, often dangerously close to each back wheel. When the ultralight is ready to land, a chick can land in a couple of steps, whereas the aircraft has to skid to a stop if they are in the way.
While watching out for one of the chicks in front of the landing plane, the other chick's legs were caught under the back wheel and severely broken. It was reported that she underwent surgery at the International Crane Foundation, but did not survive.
If these chicks were released into the wild, their survival rate would be very, very low. Even those born in the wild have a tough time making it due to predators and weather changes.:(
09-04-2009, 07:08 PM
The Necedah Lions Club will host their annual Whooping Crane and Wildlife Festival September 19, 2009.
The day will be dedicated to education and activities focused on cranes, migratory monarch butterflies, common birds and other wildlife of central Wisconsin.
Artist Jim Rataczak will explain the process of field-sketching birds and nature. Joe Duff, co-founder of Operation Migration will talk about the reintroduction of the Whooping Cranes and the use of ultralights to lead the young whoopers in the first migration. There will be other speakers presenting their work on wildlife photography, Whooping Crane biology and new wildlife projects.
There will be tours of the Necedah WLR.
I plan on attending this event for the first time this year. Of the dozens of times I have driven past the refuge, I have never been into it. I hope anyone in the area interested in the Whooping Cranes might be able to go.:)
09-20-2009, 09:22 PM
Where you able to attend the festival? Oh...I wish I could have flown up there and attended it with you. It sounded like a good one!:)
09-20-2009, 10:00 PM
Hi Jean & Everyone!
Yes, I did attend the Necedah Whooping Crane Festival for the first time this year. It was so amazing to be at the place where these majestic birds are trained to migrate, it is hard to put into words.
There were information booths set up from Patuxent, MD, Chass. Wildlife Refuge in FL, and Operation Migration. We got to chat with several of the people directly involved and see an ultralight up close. Those little things cost $30,000!
Of course the highlight of the whole fest was the bus tour of the refuge. We got to go right into the areas not open to the public. There is a viewing platform, but we went deeper into the refuge. We saw plenty of Sandhill Cranes, Canada geese, Trumpeter Swans, ducks, deer and two Whooping Cranes flying low over one of the pools off in the distance. Much too far for me to get any pictures I'm sorry to say.
Other than marsh, the area is made up of many White Pine and Oak Savanahs along with prairie areas. Wisconsin's largest population of Karner Blue Butterflies calls this refuge home. It also has the largest population in the state of the Red-Headed Woodpecker. We stopped to watch the RHWP in action and I counted at least four myself. We saw one deer and it has been reported there are three or four bears in the refuge. There is also a pack of Gray wolves that has two black ones in it.
After lunch the three OM Ultralights did a flyover with everyone waving and cheering. I definitely would like to do the bus tour again, but early in the morning when more wildlife is out and the Whooping Cranes are easier to spot.
If anyone was on a bus tour, I was the one with the camera, while everyone else had binoculars! I have a lot to learn! ;)
10-05-2009, 08:34 PM
Saturday, October 10, weather permitting, is the target date for the Class of 2009 to hit the sky on their first migration to Florida's Gulf Coast.
At 21 birds, this is the largest group of young Whoopers ever led by Ultralights.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Fellow Craniacs may follow the progress at the new CraneCam this year.
10-10-2009, 06:10 AM
The departure date has been postponed due to 11 consecutive days of bad weather and a chaotic training Friday.
The cranes will only be led to another pensite. Hopefully in strange surroundings they will be more attentive to the ultralights.
10-12-2009, 04:57 PM
The weather has not cooperated enough to even lead all of the chicks to the East Pen site where they would be closer to their first migration stopover.
It was going to be attempted this morning early, as snow was about to move in, but the handlers were no more than airborn, than turbulence moved in.
The remaining chicks were crated and moved to the East Pen site, except for Chick #928 who seems to have respiratory problems.
Tomorrow the forecast sounds favorable finally for the departure.
Good luck to the Class of 2009!
10-16-2009, 11:15 AM
Departure was planned for this morning, but after a Crane Rodeo in the air, one Ultralight managed to leave with three chicks to the first stop over.
The other WHCR chicks are scattered among the three pensites and are being accounted for at this time.
Yesterday the decision was made to euthanize #928 who has had respiratory problems that were not treatable by antibiotics. With much lung scarring he could not fly more than the length of the runway.
There were no zoos in the north that could take him for educational purposes and he could not be moved to the humidity of the south where he would have more difficulty breathing.
There are now a total of 20 young Whooping Cranes ready for migration.
10-16-2009, 08:50 PM
A total of five chicks made it to the first migratory stopover site in Juneau County today. Three led by one pilot and two by another. The other 15 are divided between two pens on the refuge.
If the weather cooperates tomorrow, the plan is to lead those two groups separately to the first stopover.
10-17-2009, 10:33 AM
In yesterday's plans to lead two chicks to one of the other two pens, they were also led to the stopover site, making it seven at that site.
It was hoped that today would be the migration day for the rest of the chicks, but it has become too windy for flight.
10-17-2009, 06:18 PM
Taking advantage of the calm winds after 4:00 this afternoon, four more birds were led to stopover #1.
Now there are 11 birds at the first stopover and 9 still at the refuge.
This is not the fastest way to start their migration, but it is progress! :D
10-18-2009, 08:31 PM
Pat, I have watched the CraneCam but keep missing the take-offs. Thanks for being "our" eyes!:)
10-20-2009, 04:51 PM
Today was to be the day the rest of the cranes would be led to Stopover #1, those cranes picked up and all of them led to Stopover #2.
That was the plan early this morning, but one crane would not come out of the pen and the other eight turned it into another crane rodeo by not cooperating. One bird was eventually led off to Stopover #1 and the other seven led back to the pen.
Score: 12 at Stopover #1
8 still at the refuge
10-22-2009, 04:18 PM
Weather has not cooperated and no more birds have been led to Stopover #1 and as of today there is more rain in the forecast.
On a better note .... The Whooping Crane #710 who lost his fear of humans and continually led other birds astray has adapted well to his new home at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL. He was gradually introduced to the natural environment and a crane diet rather than his former preference for corn. He has been named Kernel. He is now friends with Whoopie. They have been observed walking side by side, digging and eating together and doing the crane mating dance.
10-23-2009, 12:36 PM
Yesterday the decision was made to crate the remaining cranes from the West pensite and move them to the first stopover in Juneau County. At least they are in an unfamiliar area and should focus more on the ultralights.
The chicks were turned out for excersise first, as were the ones at Stopover #1. Now they are all together waiting for cooperative weather. The next leg of their migration will be 20 miles.
Today is called Migration Day 8 as October 16 was Migration Day 1.
I hope the rest of their migration goes smoother than the beginning. :)
10-27-2009, 03:39 PM
Weather was cooperating and the decision was made early to fly today. Things did not go smoothly, however, and only 10 chicks made it to Stopover #2. Nine came back to Stopover #1 and #925 was missing!
A search was made by ground, tracking van, and air. When the chick was found it was crated and hauled to Stopover #2.
The remaining chicks at Stopover #1 were also crated and transported to south Juneau County.
Hopefully these young WHCRs will get their act together tomorrow, as it appears it could be a good day to fly.
10-29-2009, 12:44 PM
While the Class of 2009 is grounded for so much of the time, they would like some pumpkins to play with.........and eat.
Anyone between Necedah and Mauston who has pumpkins to give away or knows of someone who has, can email to make arrangements to get them to the site.
11-02-2009, 10:33 AM
Yesterday all 20 young Whoopers migrated to Sauk County. The next stop should be Green County before they leave wind-sconsin/wet-sconsin.
To protect the WHCRs and the private property owners the location of the stopovers are not disclosed. Fly-overs are made public and viewing sites are given, but those are never certain, depending on the weather. Sometimes a wind pattern will make it impossible to be at the viewing area at a specified time or to even get to that point at all.
11-03-2009, 04:40 PM
Today was Migration Day #19 and the young Whoopers flew 45 miles to Green County.
All 20 of the birds burst out of their pensite in Sauk County and followed one ultralight the entire distance. It appears that they now have the idea that they are supposed to "go south"! :D
11-05-2009, 07:41 PM
Today it was finally BYE-BYE WISCONSIN! and HELLO ILLINOIS!
The Class of 2009 is on it's way!:D
11-09-2009, 11:11 AM
The Whooping Cranes are still grounded in Illinois since they arrived on Nov. 5 due to windy conditions.
The next time they fly Operation Migration will have reached 10,000 miles of leading WHCRs on their first migration. There will be a Whoop It Up! celebration at 4:00 - 5:00 CST on the crancam for those of you who can see it.
I will post the next fly date on here.
11-12-2009, 08:52 AM
No flying for today either due to winds. That is seven days grounded since the Whooping Cranes got to Illinois because of windy conditions.
There may be another leg of migration before the Whoop It Up leg.
11-13-2009, 09:05 AM
Please keep the updates coming. I appreciate the information!
11-14-2009, 08:31 AM
Today is down day #9 for the Whooping Cranes in Winnebago County, Illinois.
I am sad to say that due to personal reasons, I will not be able to keep up with the migration this fall. For those of you who want to follow it, here is a link to the field journal.
Pat - WC WI
12-13-2009, 11:19 PM
Pat, Thanks for the link! You will be missed. Please know that you are welcome to come back.
I truly have appreciated your posts/threads!
Wishing you well!
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