Eastern Flock Report: Many Migrating!
March 26, 2010
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St. Marks NWR, Florida: Eight of the St. Marks ten took off March 24th on their first journey north! They flew 263 miles on Day 1 of their first journey north! Their roost stop was one of the stopovers for the ultralights and birds on the way down to Florida. (What does that tell you?)

Craig Kittendorf from the St. Marks Photo Club emailed Operation Migration, as he was watching on the closed circuit camera at the time: " Shortly before 10 am they started getting very noisy. After a while, they would quiet down again. Then repeated a couple of times. Around 11 am all 10 took flight and began circling. They were soon so high they could barely be seen. After about 15 minutes, two returned to the pen. The other eight could no longer be seen." Visit the pen.

What a surprise! The departure is a bit early and the birds had not shown the typical pre-migratory restlessness. Also, the team expected this group of birds would make the journey north all together since they had been such a cohesive group all winter. Last year (2009) the St. Marks birds left March 30th.

Chassahowitzka NWR, Florida: Eva predicted the Chass Nine would leave within a day or two as the weather forecast offers good flying conditions. Matt reminds us that the chicks are too young for breeding so not in a rush to get home and claim territories. Stay tuned!

Flock Status: Crane 42-09 DAR was first in the class of 2009 to depart. On March 12, the first Whooping Crane of the season (male #211) was confirmed back in Wisconsin as he flew directly over ICF! At least 10 Whooping Cranes are back in Wisconsin. More than 69 cranes were either in migration or known to have begun migration. The size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) is 103 birds (58 males, 45 females). Sadly, we report two recent deaths. Cranes #903 and #501 were lost in Florida to bobcat predation.

Check the Finish Line and record each crane's arrival on the Arrival Log!

Ready, Set. . .
Matt Strausser, ICF tracker.