Midwest Region


By the Numbers: Five New Whooping Crane Chicks Hatch in the Wild!

June 13, 2010

Whooping Crane nesting season has officially ended here in Wisconsin.  Three late-season nests and four renests have left us with six Whooping Crane chicks on and around Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

Numbers 9-03 and 3-04 hatched a pair of chicks in the final days of May. Although the tracking team with aerial assistance from Richard van Heuvelen, Operation Migration pilot, was originally monitoring two chicks, only one chick persists.  The chick, aptly named W1-10 (1st wild-hatched in 2010), is with the two dutiful parents on the refuge.

12-02 and 19-04: Two for One

On June 6th, ICF aviculturist and tracking team co-leader Sara Zimorski, along with ICF field manager Eva Szyszkoski replaced 12-02 and 19-04’s two infertile eggs with one fertile egg from captivity.  Numbers 12-02 and 19-04 have a history of producing infertile eggs, but they continue to nest in Wood County north of Necedah. With the trade complete, the chick hatched the next day and is still doing well.

3-03 and 17-03: The Third Time is the Charm

On the refuge, 3-03 and 17-03 have hatched two chicks. This prolific pair put out three nests this season. The first two nests failed, but this late-season nest produced two chicks.

12-04 and 27-05: The Forested Four

In the nearby Juneau County Forest, 12-04 and DAR bird 27-05 had two fertile eggs. During a monitoring flight, Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration pilot and expert egg spotter, noted that one of their eggs had fallen into the water. The tracking team sprung into action. Although the nesting adults had done their best to push the egg back into the nest, it was the tracking team that placed the egg back in the nest. However, it was too late; the next day, only one chick would hatch.  This nest is only the second nest produced by a DAR (Direct Autumn Release) bird, and the first chick hatched by a DAR bird. The new chick is an encouraging result for the program. Biologists expect to see many more chicks hatched by DAR parents as the majority of DAR birds begin to reach breeding age.

13-02 and 18-02: Five Days Late

On the refuge, 13-02 and 18-02 are still sitting on their one egg. The nest was expected to hatch five days ago. The egg is suspected to be infertile or non-viable.

11-03 and 12-03: Bring the Total to Seven  

This weekend, Matt Ahrens, Operation Migration pilot and flying ace, took Matt Strausser, ICF tracker, under his wing, quite literally.  With a bird’s eye view, the two spotted a new chick with 11-03 and 12-03. However, the pair’s second egg remained on their nest.

46-07 and 2-04: Eight Days Past Due

On the refuge, 46-07 and 2-04 continued to incubate an egg eight days after it was due to hatch. The egg was collected and analyzed at ICF. The ICF veterinary staff determined the egg was infertile.

For those keeping track at home, there are now six wild-hatched chicks being raised by released Whooping Cranes!

Update and photos by Matt Strausser, ICF Tracking Intern.

Whooping Crane Chicks


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Last updated: June 15, 2016