"Latka" Returns to Wisconsin
This week I have had the pleasure of observing an endangered Whooping Crane in Rock County. This Whooping Crane, however, isn't any ordinary bird. Latka (named after the television character played by Andy Kaufman - also known as 59-13) has a very interesting story about how she got to where she is today. From Learner.org which has some amazing information about all of the individual Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population:
"How did she get the name Latke? ICF staff used the theme of TV sitcoms or sitcom characters when they named the new chicks. (A change in the numbering system is under discussion.) Latke is named after Latka Gravas of the old TV show "Taxi." Latka is the smallest chick, but she has a lot of spunk! She came to the DAR program as an egg from the Calgary Zoo Whooping cranes.
Latka and the other DAR chicks were costume reared and then transported to Horicon Wildlfe Refuge in early September. The chicks will now spend more time out of a pen and less time with the costume. They will be officially released probably at the end of October to mingle with other wild Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes. If all goes as planned, the youngsters will follow the older cranes to learn the flock's southward migration route.
The DAR chicks got their legbands and colors on Sept 27. Over the summer, Laktke had not grown as much as the other chicks so she received only 3 color bands. The DAR chicks were released at Horicon NWR on Oct 24, 2013.
Latka (#59-13) was initially detected heading south with juveniles nos. 50, 51, and 54-13 on 11 December 11, but separated from them and returned to the Horicon NWR.
Since it was dangerously cold and it appeared she would fail to migrate, she was captured, held overnight at the International Crane Foundation (ICF), and transported by aircraft south to the Wheeler NWR in Alabama the next day. There she was released near other Sandhill and Whooping cranes. This intervention was necessary to give her the best chance to survive winter, although she did not learn her migration route. Latka (#59-13) apparently liked her new home at Wheeler NWR because she was still there as March began."
There you have it. Latka, in true Andy Kaufman style, deviated from all things normal and did it her own way. Even though I expect to see Whooping Cranes nearly every fall and spring, it never gets old and it likely won't until the reach numbers nearing the Sandhill Cranes - and there's a good chance that won't happen in my lifetime.
Thanks for reading!
Keywords: Birding, Birds, Crane, International Crane Foundation, Latka, Operation Migration, Sandhill Crane, Scott Weberpal, Whooping Crane
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