+67 Miles (Total:
time to celebrate! Migration 2005 is over! The cranes and planes
arrived at their Halpata drop-off site at 9:30 AM, completing the
journey south begun 61 days ago. All birds took off, and 18
followed right to the new temporary holding site at Halpata Preserve.
however, landed in a field near the lucky people who came to see
the historic event. The crowd waited in hushed excitement as the
other 18 birds flew over in descent
landing. (#516 was caught and trucked to the chicks' new home; see
photo below.) After
the airborne heroes passed, the fans saluted them with joyous clapping
and cheering. Moments
were called down with
crane recordings played by the "costumes" who waited
at the new pen site in Halpata Preserve.
|BE THERE WITH THIS LIVE
"Whooper Happenings" with
Mark Chenowith was on
the scene at
today's flyover. Join Mark and hear actual voices of the crowd,
landing with Operation Migration ultralight pilots!
19 young crane-kids now become "graduates" like the
other 41 whoopers
who completed the 7-state journey south behind ultralight
planes, all now migrating back and forth on their own. A
few graduate whoopers have chosen wintering areas other than
this writing. Four whooping cranes were present
at a wintering area in south-central Tennessee. DAR chicks
527, 528, and
533 remain at Hiwassee Wildlife
Refuge in Tennessee. DAR
the area in the previous week and has not been located. And we
are thrilled to report that wayward #309 has
finally found her way south!
Why Halpata Preserve?
from the four previous ultralight-led migrations were delivered to
Chassahowitzka ("Chass") NWR; see location on the map.
But that changed this year. The 19 HY2005 chicks were delivered to
not too far
They're unlikely to meet up with older whooping cranes at this carefully
site. The returning "graduates"
the chicks' winter pen at Chass as their
own. That's where they spent their first winter. That's where they
find free crane
chow. With more than 40 adult "graduates," their
fondness for the pen site is becoming a problem. The older
birds often pick on and chase away the younger ones. This
endangers the youngsters' chances of survival. The team will
leave the chicks at this temporary holding site until mid-January,
or until all of the older birds
the Chass site, found no food or younger cranes to harass,
and moved to their inland wintering areas. In mid-January the
birds will be moved--by flying behind ultarlights, or perhaps
in crates in a van. We'll bring you all the decisions and details
when we cover their
for our final
wrap-up report with news about the cranes' health
checks/banding, their first days in Florida, and what's next.