Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

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December 10, 2005
Migration Day 58

Sky Circus and Cranes in Two Counties
+64 Miles for Some Cranes

It was a day of struggle for the birds and the pilots. After four nights in a pen in good crane habitat, the birds didn't want to leave. And they certainly didn't want to fly in today's headwinds. But the pilots knew calmer air was higher up, if they could just get the birds UP there. Most of the birds made up their mind not to go.

Former US Pres. Jimmy Carter talks cranes with Walt before today's fly-over take-off from Pike County, Georgia.
On one occasion in the past he also pitched in to help the ground crew put up the pen.
Crane #520 dropped out and vanished. Trackers located her in a pond on a sod farm.  As soon as Chris flew low over the field, she popped up and followed him back to the starting point in Terrell County, GA.
Seven crane-kids made it to Cook County, Georgia. Twelve went back to Terrell County where they'd spent the past 5 days.

Richard ended up with six birds, and Chris, not too far away, with one. Joe and Brooke were last, in an all-out struggle to get the other 12 birds to follow. The birds wanted nothing to do with that headwind. Then one of Richard’s birds dropped low, fell behind, and vanished as they passed Albany, Georgia. Brooke ended up escorting 11 birds (501, 502, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 514, 519, and 523) back to the starting point. Joe was able to get one (#510) to follow him to the next stop in Cook County, Georgia.  After today's unsettling events, the birds are safe but the migration team is regrouping to figure out what to do next.

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Today's Question: You know that a crane that doesn't fly is usually boxed and driven to the next site. Joe said, "Since there are 12 birds that did not make today's leg, too many birds wouldn't know this section of the migration. This gap in the birds' knowledge can cause them to get lost on their unassisted spring migration to Wisconsin. Boxing cranes is a stressful ordeal for both the birds and us crane handlers. It's much safer to fly the birds south." What do you think the team should do? What risks do they need to consider?





Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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