Crane fans in Wisconsin are talking about a unique chick being raised by a mixed pair of cranes in Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The chick appears to be the offspring of a male Whooping Crane (identified as DAR 16-11) and a female Sandhill Crane.
The chick, who has earned the nickname "Whoopsie" from crane fans, may be the first of its kind. It is certainly the first documented offspring from a mixed Whooping-Sandhill pairing in the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes.
In the 1940s there were just 21 Whooping Cranes left. Since then, groups have been working to save the species and bolster the various flock populations. As of 2011, there were almost 600 birds, including both wild and captive birds.
Whooping Crane DAR 16-11, given the nickname "Grasshopper", was hatched on June 15, 2011. He was costume-reared by International Crane Foundation handlers. At about five months of age, he and his 2011 DAR (Direct Autumn Release) cohorts were released at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in the presence of wild Whooping Cranes. The wild birds show the DAR birds the migration route from their northern breeding grounds to their winter home in Florida.