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Whooping Cranes, events, mortalities

Operation Migration has had some headaches
**  The ultra-light aircraft people call a trike reminds me of a flying lawnmower.
 I think we were told they have raised the needed funds and now have these trikes and they will be used in 2014.

When they were delayed by the FAA, the birds had to be released in Alabama.
OM had an ex-employee who was badgering the FAA with complaints about them.
Basically, they're getting paid to fly ultra-lights, which is illegal.
So they stopped the migration when they found out the FAA was investigating, said they didn't want to break any laws.
The FAA eventually gave them a one-time exemption, but they had to get special pilots licenses last year,
and next year they have to get new planes and have them maintained 100% by a separate mechanic.
OM's argument was that they spent 98% of their time caretaking the birds, and they could volunteer the time they flew.

Whooping crane migration given green light by FAA
Jan 9, 2012
 - A flock of rare whooping cranes has been given the go-ahead to complete its inaugural winter migration after the FAA lifted restrictions on the pilots, who will guide them from Wisconsin to Florida wearing bird costumes.
The whooping cranes have been in pens since last month while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigated whether the 1,285-mile flight violates regulations.
The FAA said it would grant Operation Migration a one-time exemption to the pilots flying ultralight aircraft leading the whooping cranes, who were stalled in Alabama.
The issue arose because the pilots are being paid by the conservation group Operation Migration, violating FAA regulations that a pilot must hold a commercial rating to fly for hire. The Operation Migration pilots are licensed to fly lightweight sport aircraft.

An Operation Migration Facebook page read: YAHOO! Thank you to EVERYONE for your support!
You signed petitions and posted comments and the FAA listened. We are thrilled beyond belief!

Operation Migration is part of a public-private U.S.-Canadian partnership aimed at re-establishing migrating flocks of whooping cranes.
The FAA will work with Operation Migration to develop a long-term solution.
FAA rules forbid sport aircraft from being flown to benefit a charity or business, a regulation aimed at barring the charities or businesses from giving rides in the light craft.


One flight corridor for whooping cranes runs from western Canada to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
The current flight is part of an effort that started in 2001 to restart an eastern U.S. flyway from Wisconsin to Florida.
The goal is to create a new wild flock and this is their historical range.
The cranes are bred and hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, then transferred to a refuge in Wisconsin.

The birds are reared by conservationists in bird suits that conceal their human features.
They become conditioned to follow the suited handlers and a plane engine.

On the migratory route, the cranes follow the small plane flown by a pilot in a bird costume. The flock flies from 25 to 50 miles a day.
Once the route is flown the birds can make the return flight on their own.

*  They were grounded about 500 miles from their goal on December 21 following an outside complaint.
The group left Wisconsin with 10 birds.
About 90 cranes have been established on the eastern route since 2001.
They have started to reproduce in the wild in a slow expansion, with sexual maturity reached about age 6 years.
The whooping crane in North America's tallest bird, standing more than five feet high as adults, and wingspan can reach almost eight feet.
They have white bodies with a red crown and are named for their whooping sound.

Whooping cranes grounded by FAA
January 7, 2012
Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.
Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the FAA investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid, not working for free.
FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire.
FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft from being flown to benefit a charity.
The rules are aimed at preventing charities from taking passengers for joyrides in sometimes risky planes.

OM agreed voluntarily to stop flying and has applied to FAA for a waiver.
It's a slow trip, primarily because of the plane's limitations. No flying on windy or rainy days.
Then, just before Christmas, FAA officials told Operation Migration that they had opened an investigation of possible violations.
The birds are now safely penned in Franklin County, Ala.

Operation Migration Raises Funds for New Aircraft
June 15, 2013

Operation Migration says its found a way to satisfy the FAA and whooping cranes to continue leading young birds on a migration from Wisconsin to Florida each fall. Two years ago, when a former pilot complained to the FAA about the nature of the flying in the operation (he claimed improperly licensed pilots were flying for hire in non-compliant aircraft), the FAA gave Operation Migration two years to meet new standards for the flying portion of the unique initiative. The FAA said the pilots, who are salaried employees, must have at least private pilot certificates and the aircraft have to meet at least SLSA standards. That's a considerable compromise from the normal standard that requires professional pilots to have commercial tickets and fly fully certified aircraft when they're on the clock.
The FAA wants to help OM achieve their mission.
Washington State trike manufacturer North Wing has taken on the task of providing an aircraft that meets the requirements of the birds and the FAA.

Operation Migration founder Joe Duff said the aircraft need to be able to fly safely on the ragged edge of a stall at times.
Although whooping cranes can cruise at 38 mph, they don't always maintain that pace so the aircraft needs to be able to fly slow enough to allow them to catch up.
Only a weight shift aircraft gives the pilot the precise control required to allow bird and machine to fly in formation.

Operation Migration aircraft adjusts to FAA regulations
June 14, 2013

**  To continue its mission guiding whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida, Operation Migration is working to replace its 3 ultralight aircraft by next spring in order to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Following an investigation in 2011, the FAA discovered that OM had been compensating their pilots for their migration trips, in violation of federal regulations for ultralights.
The small, open-air planes can be used only for recreational purposes.

The trike is a low-cost, low-speed, low-altitude aircraft.
When pilots are compensated, the bar is raised and that’s something that the FAA looks at with more scrutiny.
OM pilots were required to obtain private pilot licenses, according to OM pilot Joe Duff.

OM aircraft need to have a small 50-horsepower engine. The plane needs to travel 30 to 50 mph so the birds can keep up.
The new fleet also must have bird-friendly propeller guards and eventually will have speakers that
play a louder version of the comforting, brooding sound a mother whooping crane makes to her chicks.

The FAA allowed Operation Migration an exemption from the ultralight rules until April 30, 2014.
OM is using their current ultralights for the 2013 migration.
Whooping cranes now number 600 nationwide.

Bird's Eye Views

Whooping cranes Operation Migration class of 2013

Whooping Cranes migrating from Wisconsin to Florida, flying behind the trikes (flying lawn mower!)

Field journal
Writings by the pilots, photos

              Postings   <*))))><   by  

ZionsCRY DAILY NEWS with prophetic analysis


Operation Migration
This is incomplete - sorry

Class of 2006
LIGHTNING  KILLS 17 Whooping Crane chicks

A severe storm, lightning killed 15 of the 16 cranes in their pen.
Only one whooping crane chick survives Fla. storms
February 07, 2007 - Male #15 broke loose from a top-netted pen when tornadoes struck and killed his 17 flock mates.

2015 - neither of these links has this story so did did a websearch
I believe #15 later died also.  I think all of a recent year perished too.

February 2, 2007
The storm killed the entire 2006 OM class, 17 birds

2009 class made it to Florida

Cow Pond Cranes in Alabama
December 2014
Cowpond pair produced a chick this year, * I think Heather said the chick didnt survive, uncertain.

Another Take-off & Turn-back October 22, 2010

2011  Wheeler Alabama
Calling it Quits January 29, 2012

The 9 young cranes are done following the pilots.  The OM Class of 2011 were crated and transported to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama. They are in good company: 7 older Whooping cranes and thousands of Sandhill cranes are wintering there too.

A bureaucratic glitch with the FAA and weather caused delays. By February, it was too warm to convince the cranes to fly any farther south than northern Alabama, and that's where they stayed until instinct told them to fly back to Wisconsin.

Cow Pond Cranes in Alabama
December 2014
Cranes #5-11 and #12-11 are paired and nested unsuccessfully in 2014.
Cranes #7-11 and #10-11 paired and produced a viable egg which didn’t make it.
They are returning to Wisconsin each year, and have nested at only three years old.

Class of 2014 Whooping Cranes RELEASED!
December 2014
The cranes have been in the top-netted pen at at St. Marks until about 3 hours ago.


September 28, 2012
Six juvenile Whooping Cranes began their first fall migration at 7:38 a.m. today on the journey south from Wisconsin to Florida. Here's more good news: They successfully flew right over Stop #1 (just 5 miles from the White River Marsh training site) and onward to Stop #2 (another 14 miles farther).
That's 19 miles for Day 1 — and a joyous, lucky start for migration 2012!
They're safely penned in Marquette County, Wisconsin.

Migration is a process that requires help the first year of a Whooping Crane's life. That's Operation Migration's job. Pilot Richard launched and led them today, while pilot Brooke flew behind to help any tired birds.
Richard landed with five birds while Brooke brought up the rear with Crane #5.

All 9 got to Florida and 7 came back to Wisconsin
2 perished returning.

Whooping Cranes Operation Migration 2013
My blog

Whooping Cranes Operation Migration 2014
My blog

7 headed south.  Weather delays so serious OM finally crated the birds and drove them from Lodi Wisconsin to Tennessee.

Whooping Crane survivability chances, mortality
January 2014

I found few statistics on survivability of Whooping Cranes.  I found a few doing a websearch.  
Thruout 2013 OM (operation migration) posted mortality updates.  Since the posts were scattered, I went thru my notes to compile the data.
Contrary to the sassy chatroom mod, I dont enjoy crane deaths.  But a record needs to be made.

In his speech, Joe Duff mentioned they had *lost* some birds, but he gave few details.
OM pilot Joe Duff gives a talk about cranes. OM has lost a few birds for varying reasons.

Class of 2013 Pecking Order
This is the class migration I followed from Wisconsin to Florida

Class of 2013 migration from Wisconsin to Florida
These are my notes with pictures - screen shots mostly

Half of the 2012 chicks didnt survive their first year.

Mortality of whoopers seems to be inaccurate and largely guesswork.  Eessentially, if they lose one, its dead.

Georgia December 2010 - Dead Whooping Cranes is a mystery
3 dead DAR whooping cranes found just west of Albany Georgia, part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Almont, N.D. - Whooping crane remains found in a field, broken neck.

Alabama - 2 Whooping cranes found shot dead, 12-04 and 22-10

Indiana - Whooping crane found dead from a shotgun wound.  I wonder if thats why OM no longer flies thru Indiana.

RIP 2006 Whoopers
In 2006 OM lost the entire group of cranes because they were trapped in a storm.
Sadly, all but one crane were killed February 2, 2007 when a storm hit their wintering grounds in Florida.
The remaining crane was also lost in the spring.

About the 2006 Storm
The Whooping Cranes suffered a major blow on February 2, 2007 when 17 juvenile birds were killed in a Florida storm
that also killed 20 people in tornadoes. The birds were in a pen to keep them safe from predators,
when they were stunned by a lightning strike estimated to have hit 150 feel from the pen.
Necropsy results showed they likely collapsed after being stunned, and drowned in rising water in their top-netted pen.
Up until this event, no captive Whooping Crane anywhere had ever been killed by lightning.
One of the young cranes managed to escape the pen during the storm and was discovered alive on Feb. 3.
He survived winter but died the end of April. Cause of death is being investigated.

    Whooping Crane Update, 1 September
    14 November 2013
     OM Heather Ray report
    The eastern migratory population is 108 birds (58 males and 50 females).
    29 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, 5 in Illinois, 21 in Indiana, 2 in Tennessee, 5 in Kentucky, 2 in Alabama, 35 at unknown locations on migration
    3 not recently reported, 2 presumed dead, and 2 long term missing.

    The deaths of male and female wild-hatched chicks.
    W1-12 and W8-12 were discovered during an aerial tracking flight on 2 October on state wildlife property near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
    Their heavily scavenged remains were collected on 2 and 3 October respectively.

    The fully intact carcass of female parent-reared juvenile 21-13 was collected on the shoulder of a public road through the Necedah on 2 October.

    The scavenged remains of female parent-reared juvenile 20-13 were collected on 15 October on Necedah. Her death was discovered during an aerial tracking flight the previous day.

    Wild-hatched female W1-10 died in captivity 2 November despite efforts to rehabilitate her.
    She had been discovered injured at Necedah on 9 September.

    The remains of DAR (Direct Autumn Release) juvenile male 53-13 were discovered at Horicon on 13 November.

    Suspected Mortalities

    Male 5-05 and female no. 22-07 (both with nonfunctional transmitters) are suspected dead but are still included in the population totals above.
    No. 22-07’s mate has been observed on their previous wintering territory in Gibson County, Indiana, alone.

    W1-10 was reported with an injury on 9 September. She was captured at Necedah on 12 September and transported to the International Crane Foundation. She had sustained wounds on her left foot and her lower right leg. Despite rehabilitation efforts, she succumbed to internal injuries.

    2013  DAR Cohort

    Nine DAR juveniles were released 24 October at Horicon, Dodge County, Wisconsin. One juvenile sustained a minor leg injury and another (53-13) was discovered dead on 13 November.

    PR 20-13 and 21-13 were killed shortly after release (see mortality section).

    Long Term Missing
    Male 12-07
    was last observed on the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on 25 April 2012. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

    November 12, 2013  report
    The deaths of 2 wild-hatched chicks were discovered October 2 near Necedah.
    A parent-reared juvenile #21-13 was collected October 2 on the shoulder of a public road by Necedah.
    The scavenged remains of parent-reared juvenile #20-13 were collected October 15 at Necedah.
    Wild-hatched female #W1-10 died in captivity November 2.
    The remains of DAR #53-13 were discovered November 13 on Horicon.

    One of the DAR cranes was killed by a predator.

    Jan. 15, 2014  Heather report
    Two Whooping cranes were found in Hopkins County, KY in November 2013, likely shot.
    Both cranes were from Operation Migration.
    The female #5 2009, was discovered and taken to a Kentucky rehabilitation center but had to be euthanized.

    The scavenged remains of Male #33 2007 were found nearby. Bullet fragments from a rifle were discovered in crane 5-09 when the wildlife forensics lab in Oregon performed a necropsy.

    What is DAR
    DAR (direct autumn release) Neceedah, Wisc. International Crane Foundation
    DAR success is slightly less than OM's
    DAR chicks are released on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge near ICF in fall
    Dar sends the crane chicks to Necedah Wis shortly prior to release - when chicks are a few months old.

    $15,250 REWARD
    Jan 27, 2014
    Reward Now at $15,250 for Information Leading to Arrest and Conviction on Whooping Crane Shot in Kentucky
    Anyone with information concerning the killing of the whooping cranes is urged to contact Special Agent Bob Snow at (502) 582-5989, ext. 29
    or the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources dispatch at 1-800-25ALERT (800-252-5378)

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources are requesting assistance with an investigation involving the unlawful shooting of a whooping crane near Pond River on the Hopkins and Muhlenberg County line.

    Whooping cranes are the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, with less than 500 living in the wild in the United States. Kentucky is fortunate to have seven whooping cranes wintering in the Commonwealth this year.

    On November 25, 2013, the International Crane Foundation received a report from a Hopkins County resident of a whooping crane that appeared to be injured. Initially, the wounded crane was still able to fly, but was extremely weakened, and was rescued on November 27, 2013. Among other injuries, the crane’s upper leg was shattered. Attempts to save the bird were unsuccessful, and the crane identified as 5-09 had to be euthanized.

    Its mate 33-07 carcass recovered in northeast Muhlenburg County along Pond River north of Hwy 70 on December 13, 2013.
    Investigators believe both cranes, recovered five miles apart, were shot in the same incident.

    Sad  Only 2 out of 9 of the 2013 DAR Cranes Remain  Sad
    Jan 27, 2014
    by Heather Ray, OM
    The three 2013 DAR Whooping Cranes in Illinois have died, likely due to predation.

    The two remaining 2013 DAR birds are both doing well. Mork (#57-13) remains at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee after migrating there earlier this fall. Latka (#59-13) has been hanging out with adult Whooping Cranes at Wheeler NWR.

    2013 DAR birds did not migrate within a similar time frame as the wild birds around them.
    3 chicks were lost prior to migration with predation suspected, and 1 lost to pneumonia.
    Once the environment became inhospitable, the remaining four chicks did migrate south.

    It is a fact that half of the birds hatched - across species - do not survive their first year.

    2006 Migration successful for 17 crane colts

    Sad   February 2, 2007
    The storm killed the entire 2006 OM class, 17 birds

    2008 Migration
    St. Marks 7 cranes Complete Migration!
    January 17, 2009  The St. Marks Seven (805, 812, 813, 826, 828, 829 and 830) are home!
    Birds showed some independence by trying at least twice to break away instead of following Richard.
    But Richard and his 'wingmen' (Joe, Brooke, and Chris) were expert air shepherds.

    January 21, 2009
    The 7 flew 2 legs, 86 miles and landed in Gilchrist County, Florida.
    Pilot Joe Duff performed the first air pickup.  2 miles out, Brooke moved in to pick up the birds off Joe's wing, as Joe could not fly slower than 38 mph without his engine stalling, and the birds had trouble keeping up with him. Joe suspected that a bit of the wingcover got caught in his propeller and caused the problem. But all pilots and birds landed safely.

    January 23, 2009: Chass 7 Complete Migration!
    Heather - At 10:43 there are 6 on the ground and one very reluctant bird that does NOT want to land.
    So OM boxed #804 male for an airboat ride out to the release pen.
    Health checks and banding will happen next week, then life as wild, free cranes begins.

    The Class of 2008 is the eighth group to be guided by ultralights
    from central Wisconsin to Florida for the winter.
    6 DAR chicks also migrated.

    October 17, 2008 Migration 2008 is Underway!
    OM had a 4th pilot named Chris

    Fall 2009 Migration

    *  Its not all that easy to find info!

    Whooping Crane Update December 2014
    The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population.
    SIZE - 97 birds (54 males, 43 females) - included  40 whooping cranes in Indiana, 10 in Illinois, 8 in Kentucky, 6 in Tennessee, 11 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 6 in Florida, 10 at unknown locations, 1 not recently reported, 1 long term missing, and 1 suspected mortality.

    Mortality  -   ONO!  Sad

    Male #5-13
    (yellow band) apparently disappeared on or near the St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida, on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving night. He is suspected dead but is still included in the population totals above. Efforts are currently underway to locate him.

    2012 Cohort

    #4-12 and 5-12 at St. Marks Florida 30 November.

    #7-12 remained with 3-11, 24-13 and 38-09 in Knox County, Indiana, except for a brief trip north into Greene County late November. Pair 29-08 and W3-10 joined this group by 18 November and 18-09 joined by 23 November.

    #14-12 remained in LaPorte County, Indiana, until beginning migration on the evening of 30 November or early morning 1 December. He was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 1 December.

    #16-12 began migration from Monroe County, Wisconsin, on 17 November. He was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 19 November where he remained through at least last check on 2 December.

    2013 Cohort

    #2, 4, 5, 7, and 8
    began migration from Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin on 13 November. Satellite readings indicted roost locations in Iroquois County, Indiana, on 13 November; Wabash County, Illinois, on 14 November; northern Alabama on 17 November and Decatur County, Georgia, on 18 November where they remained until arriving at the St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida by roost on 21 November. No. 5-13 disappeared from this location on the night of 27 November (see above).

    #9-13 male began migration from Dodge County, Wisconsin, on 13/14 November. Satellite readings placed in him Newton County, Indiana, on 14-20 November; Clinton County, Indiana, on 25-29 November and Lawrence County, Indiana, by roost on 1 December. He was observed at this location with two sandhill cranes on 2 December and continued south to Barren County, Kentucky, the next day.

    #22-13 began migration from Vermilion/Champaign Counties, Illinois, on 14 November. Satellite reading indicated a roost location in DeKalb County, Tennessee, on 15 and 16 November. He arrived at his previous wintering territory at the Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 17/18 November.

    #24-13 remained with nos. 3-11, 7-12 and 38-09 in Knox County, Indiana. Pair nos. 29-08 and W3-10 joined this group by 18 November and no. 18-09 joined by 23 November. No. 7-12 briefly left this location (see above).

    #57-13 remained in Dodge County, Wisconsin, through at least 9 November. He was not detected in the area on 13 November and was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on 19 November.

    #59-13 was reported at the Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, on 21 November where she remains.

    2014 Cohort

    Wild-hatched – No. W3-14 remained with her father in Greene County, Indiana, throughout the report period.

    Ultralight – Seven juveniles in the ultralight-led cohort currently located at their 19th stopover in TROY, Pike County, Alabama.

    Parent-reared – No. 19-14 began migration from near the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, with adult pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 on 12 November. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, that night and remained at least through roost on 16 November, apparently continuing migration on 17 November. Low precision satellite readings from no. 19-14 indicated a roost location in Grayson County, Kentucky, on the night of 18 November. They were photographed on a game camera in Logan County, Kentucky, on the morning of 19 November and continued south on 20 November, arriving on the adults wintering ground in Lowndes County, Georgia, by 22 November. They remain at this location.

    No. 20-14 remained with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 in Greene County, Indiana. These three birds have been seen associating with pair nos. 8-04 and 19-05 at this location.

    No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period. Pair nos. 24-09 and 42-09 joined this group by 21 November. An additional two Whooping Cranes were observed at this location on 4 December.

    Whooping Crane Update
    31 December 2014

    103 birds (54 males, 49 females) eastern migratory population.

    The remains of Mr. Independent male #5-13 were recently found at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County, Florida. His death apparently had occurred on Thanksgiving night.

    #5-13 male on Day 1 of migration flew to the flyover -
    then turned around and flew home again!  Crated to stop 1.

    Mr. Independent just behaved independently thruout migration.
    I refused to believe he is gone til they found his remains.


    #8 female colt from class of 2013 dead
    January 12, 2015
     -  Brooke
    Female #8-13’s transmitter was not functioning so we caught her and replaced it.
    As OM approached her it was evident she was limping badly. Once caught, it was clear her right leg was severely broken.  We rushed her to veterinarian but sadly, she had to be euthanized.
    The loss of Male #5-13 (December 2014) and #8-13 dropped the survival rate of the Class of 2013 to 50% in less than a year. Only 10 whoopers returned to the State of Florida this year.  Now there are 8.

    #8-13 injured her leg last year too. OM gave her med-grapes.
    Losing male #5-13 is also sad.
    So of 8 from 2013 – 4 remain and half are together – across Rainbow Bridge.
    That is average for all yearling birds – if I understand correctly, that is better than average.
    If that is any comfort.

    Sad  #2 and #7 from 2013 killed by predator January 2015

    Sad  With the loss of 1, 3, 5 and 8 - and now 2 and 7
    Now there are only 2 left of 8 in the class of 2013 - #4 and 9, both males.


    Image taken by OM in 2004 while flying over Georgia

    EMP Update – Where are the Whoopers?
    Feb. 5, 2015
      Whooping Crane Update  31 January 2015
    The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, are known to have moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. Updated band and transmitter information can be found in the attached document.

    Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 100 birds (53 males, 47 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 26-29 whooping cranes in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 10 in Tennessee, 34 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 13 in Florida, 2-5 at unknown locations and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 7 newly released juveniles.

    Female no. 8-13
    was discovered with a severely injured upper right leg at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, on the morning of 5 January. She was captured and transported to the Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital where she was euthanized.
    The remains of male no. 7-13 and female no. 2-13 were found on private property adjacent to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, on 15 January.
    Death of both birds had likely occurred on 5 January.

    2012 Cohort

    Nos. 4-12 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

    No. 5-12 remained near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

    No. 7-12 remained in Knox/Greene Counties, Indiana, throughout the report period.

    No. 14-12 was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 1 December and had left this location by 5 December. No subsequent reports.

    No. 16-12 was last detected in Jackson County, Indiana, on 6 January. He was confirmed at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January and was last detected at this location the following two days. No subsequent reports.

    2013 Cohort

    Nos. 2, 4, 7, and 8-13 remained on and near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, until the deaths of nos. 2, 7 and 8-13 (see above). No. 4-13 has joined no. 4-12 and the juveniles at the pensite.

    No. 9-13 remained on and near the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, Florida, throughout the report period.

    No. 22-13 remained at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, throughout the report period.

    No. 24-13 remained in Knox/Greene Counties, Indiana, until moving south to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, on 7/8 January with nos. 18-09, 38-09, 6-09, 23-10 and 3-11. [Nos. 3-11, 6-09 and 23-10 returned to Greene County, Indiana, by 21 January].

    No. 57-13 remained in Jackson County, Indiana, through at least 6 January. He was detected at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January where he remained.

    No. 59-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, throughout the report period and was often seen associating with male no. 1-11.

    2014 Cohort

    No. W3-14 remained with her father in Greene County, Indiana, until moving south to Lawrence  County, Alabama, on 3-8 January with nos. 12-02, 29-09, 19-10 and 4-11.

    OM Ultralight
    The seven juveniles at the release pen at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge were returned to the top-netted pen on the morning of 5 January. They received their permanent colored leg bands and transmitters that day and were re-released on 8 January.


    No. 19-14 remained with pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 at their wintering location in Lowndes County, Georgia, throughout the report period.

    No. 20-14 remained with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 in Greene County, Indiana, until moving south with the adults to Jackson County, Alabama, on 6-8 January.

    No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period. Pairs nos. 24-09 and 42-09 as well as nos. 1-10 and W1-06 are also at this location.

    Long term missing
    Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

    Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 22 April 2014. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional.

    Brooke had surgery
    February 10, 2015  
    by Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR pilot and former OM Field Supervisor.
    Brooke had rotator cuff surgery and needs a little extra help at the pen so Bev went down.
    The young cranes are all healthy and active, flying their circuits in the morning and actively foraging all day.  They get along quite famously with the two adults that are currently in the pen and are tolerant of 5-12 when he sneaks back in for a try at the feeder. They have even been treating me with respect (at least as long as I have grapes) and have been roosting in the pen at night
    Several photos

    Whooping Crane Update
    28 February 2015

    100 Whooping Cranes, 53 males, 47 females.
    22 whooping cranes in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 27 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 14 in Florida, 18 at unknown locations.

    2013 Cohort
    4-13 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

    9-13 remained on and near the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, Florida, through at least roost on 23 February. He moved to a different location in the same county by the morning of 28 February.

    2014 Cohort  OM Ultralight
    The seven juveniles remained at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.

    March 18, 2015
    #2 from 2014
    Whooping crane was taken by a predator late Sunday evening.
    Brooke found her near the location where the remains of  5-13 were located in November.

    15 crane eggs collected
    April 30, 2015 -  15 Whooping Crane eggs were recently collected from nests located on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and transferred to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

    Researchers have determined second nests have had a higher full term incubation rate (54% versus 18%), hatching rate (39% versus 11%) and fledge rate (21% versus 0.1%).
    Salvaging eggs from early nests may increase the probability of renesting above 25% and, in turn, increase reproductive success.
    Eggs have been shipped to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland for continued incubation.

    Whoopsie Has a New Home
    Oct. 1, 2015 -  The captive crane flock at the International Crane Foundation has a new member – The Whooping-Sandhill Crane hybrid chick that hatched earlier this year in eastern Wisconsin has been transferred to their headquarters from the Milwaukee County Zoo, where it was temporarily housed this summer.

    The chick will be placed in quarantine for 30 days and then housed off exhibit in ICF’s Crane City. The husbandry staff at ICF will provide excellent care for the young crane as it continues to mature, and they hope to pair it with an existing bird in their collection for companionship.

    USFWS Recommends Ending Aircraft-Guided Migration
    Oct. 24, 2015
     The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted their vision for the next 5 years for the Whooping Cranes.  They proposed radical changes including ending UL, ultralight-guided migration in favor of DAR.  It was posted publicly after it was shared with the WCEP Guidance Team and well before any final decisions have been made.

    You can page thru my 2 links on cranes and make your own decision.
    It was very difficult for me to get hold of data for this thread.

    Whooping Cranes Operation Migration

    The mods OM has are very quick to ban me, and do NOT like me in their chat.

    Whooping cranes in the EMP
    November 27, 2015   Wild Cranes Migration report = * denotes female

    14 whoopers in Greene County, Indiana.  They are: 17-07*/10-09, 12-02/4-11* and 19-10, 13-03*/9-05, 36-09*/18-03, 24-13, 18-09/23-10* and 34-09*/4-08.

    The family unit consisting of 9-03 and 3-04* with the wild produced chick W18-15 is in Wayne County, Illinois. Interesting to note that during our flight from Cumberland County to our migration stop in Wayne County, we flew approximately 7 miles from the small wetland where this family is. Even more interesting is that W18-15 and ultralight crane 8-15* are full siblings. Number 8-15 came from the forced re-nesting study at Necedah and resulted from the first clutch of eggs this past spring being collected for use in the reintroduction. (Thanks PCW!).

    Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan flew her final aerial survey of the season Nov. 24th and reported seeing only 3 Whooping cranes. They were: 16-12, 17-11*/19-11 – all in Juneau County, Wisconsin.

    Over in the Wisconsin Rectangle, DNR pilot Michael Callahan flew a survey yesterday and spotted 27-14* as well as six (6) of this year’s Direct Autumn Release cohort at/near Horicon marsh in Dodge County. Five members of the cohort are together and include: 61*,62,63,65*,67-15*. The sixth youngster is 68-15* was spotted in a flock of ~100 Sandhill cranes.

    Mike also reported seeing DAR colt 66-15* in Calumet County, Wisconsin.  The eighth DAR crane (64-15*) from the 2015 cohort departed on migration a few days ago and the whereabouts are unknown. Her signal was last heard as she traveled over Madison, WI, however trackers were unable to locate her due to traffic and snow.

    Four of the six 2014 ultralight Whooping cranes have PTT devices, which we get information on a couple times each week. We know for sure that 3-14* and 10-14* are currently in Jenkins County, Georgia. We cannot definitively say that 4-14 (Peanut) and 4-12 are traveling with them, however, considering the number of weeks this group of four spent together near White River Marsh in the late summer/early fall, it’s likely.

    The last PTT hit we received on number 8-14 placed her in Hamilton County, Tennessee earlier this week.

    4 Whooping cranes were foraging near the winter release pen at St Marks in Wakulla County, Florida!
    The group consists of: 7-14*, 9-14* and two males: 5-12 and 4-13.

    Sad  Sad note
    Sad  Marsha, Whooping crane #10 crosses Rainbow Bridge
    January 1, 2016
      St Marks discovered the remains of Marsha, female Whooping crane #10-14 near the winter pen.
    Called Marsha for her propensity to wander off into the marsh, she continued to occasionally wander away from the other cranes.  Her remains will be sent to the Lab in Madison, WI for necropsy.

    Sad  Another Loss Feb. 2, 2016
    Crane #9-14 was  predated at St. Marks NWR by a bobcat.
    Her sister #10-14 (Marsha) was predated January 1st.
    The OM team will attempt to capture the bobcat and release it elsewhere.

    The Royal Couple
    Whooping crane #3-14. She and male #4-12 had been at the winter pen area and had been associating with both 9-14 & 10-14.

    #9 obituary
    #9 was called TIMID and had a yellow band.  She was one of those OM experimented with putting a backpack on her.  This test did not work.  At the end of June, 2014 Geoff, the volunteer costumed handler, wrote about #9
    "She?s a bird who loves her space more than life itself, and any bird who?s in her three-foot bubble is in for a bad time. She?ll peck or chase them out of her comfort zone." Luckily, she's fine once the others get away from her. She has a lot to be sunny about, as her tough attitude has landed her the top spot in the pecking order. The chicks do their best to stay out of her way.

    By mid-November the chatroom was calling #9  Luna cuz she is a little - looney
    Class of 2014 - my notes

    The Royal Couple Joins Training July 16, 2015


    Great MAP!
    Northward Migration Progress
    April 5, 2016
    -  Our group of 5 young Whooping cranes continued north to Gibson County, Indiana.  The lone female #2-15 appears to have stayed put in Jasper County, Indiana.

    Smile   9-13 crossed Rainbow Bridge
    April 5, 2016
     -  The remains of male Whooping crane 9-13 have been found.
    He had been killed in Marquette County in November 2015.

    The Plan for 2016
    April, 2016  Pilot Joe Duff  (edit, click link)

    Fish and Wildlife Service ended the UL release method 2016 January.
    All future releases must maximize chick/parent association, the first question to answer was how that would affect the captive breeding centers that must provide the chicks.

    Parent reared birds are wanted.
    Louisiana still wants costume reared birds.

    Captive breeding pairs often produce more than the normal two eggs. The first clutch is taken. Just prior to the emergence of Black flies, they are going to pull the eggs from half of the active nests in hopes those pairs will try again. That second clutch is generally laid after the black flies are gone.

    All the success we have had with wild breeding so far has been the result of late or second nest attempts. It is hoped that these birds will still be influenced by the hormones that drive nesting, nurturing and defensive behavior.

    The second target will be young, inexperienced pairs that have failed at their first attempt to breed.  Any PR chicks will be released near single or groups of unpaired adult Whooping cranes.

    Releasing 15 birds will take a lot of manpower to manage. OM will assist as needed, plus track some of those birds as they move south. This spring we will be tracking and monitoring pairs around White River and Horicon to see if we actually do have some young pairs and what happens to any eggs they might produce. In addition, we will assist in replacing non-functioning tracking devices. Some birds need to be captured and their devices replaced.

    Brooke will be heading north this weekend and Heather and I will head out to Wisconsin later this week.  Rather than watch the behavior of birds in the pen every day we will spend more time watching the wild, post release birds

    and we will take you along with us.

    Hurricane Hermine hits Florida
    Sep 2, 2016  Panhandle
     -  Category 1 Hurricane Hermine 80 mph winds made landfall near St. Marks, Big Bend.  Evacuations are underway and a state of emergency has been declared in 51 counties across Florida.  Tallahassee hadnt been hit by a hurricane since Kate in 1985.  Hermine is moving northeast at 14 mph toward Georgia, the Carolinas and up the East Coast.

    Storm is flooding streets, toppling trees and knocking down power lines.  The storm struck where the Florida peninsula meets the panhandle. Power was out for 32,000 customers in Tallahassee.  6,000 National Guard are ready to mobilize after the storm passes. The governors of Georgia and North Carolina declared states of emergency.

    I hope the whooping cranes at St Marks are ok!
    I forgot - the cranes are in Wisconsin in the summer!

    Whooping Cranes, Operation Migration

    Heather Ray article on shooting

    Female whooping crane number 4-11 has apparently been shot at her winter location in southwest Indiana.  She was a mother last spring for the first time. Here is a link to her biography on Journey North.

    In order to help catch the individual responsible, Indiana DNR Law District 5 asked this information be shared, and if anyone has any information about the poaching to contact the Indiana Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

    Indiana paper article

    January 2017 Monthly Update
    Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes
    . In the last month most Whooping Cranes have begun migration or reached their wintering areas. A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, and all of the volunteers who help us keep track of the cranes throughout the year. We appreciate your contribution to the recovery of the whooping crane eastern migratory population.

    Population Estimate 104

    The current maximum population size is 104 (48 F, 54 M, 2 U). As of 1 January, at least 35 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Indiana, 3 in Illinois, 6 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 28 in Alabama, 5 in Florida, 4 in Georgia, and 1 in Louisiana. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during December.


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