I suspect these birds originated from Wisconsin, where the Wisconsin DNR and other organizations have initiated a recovery program. Since 1999, cranes have been released in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin and migrate to Chassahowitzka NWR on the Gulf coast of Florida. Many birders saw two cranes in Rice County, Minnesota, last fall. It surprises me that we are beginning to find Whooping Cranes in Rice Co., since we are west of a direct route between Wisconsin and Florida (but well east of the traditional crane migratory path between Texas and northwest Canada).
previously posted information about ascertaining the sex of living Whooping Cranes. I will add more about these birds if and when I receive more information.
Update from International Crane Foundattion “Based on leg bands previously reported, these two birds are both juvenile males numbers 1-10 and 8-10. They moved from Wisconsin into Goodhue County, MN for a short time and then made a brief trip back to the Necedah NWR before returning to Minnesota to this location in Rice County just recently.One of them does have a satellite transmitter so if they move from this spot, we should get a location on them within a couple of days or so.”