No Go. Close, But Crosswinds Rule (+0 Miles)
January 12, 2010: Migration Day 81

Here's a peek at the St. Marks release pen through the camouflage covering of the observation blind.
Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration


The pilots decided to give it a try despite headwind and/or a crosswind on the WSW route to St. Marks. Eager craniacs gathered at the flyover site to watch and celebrate. But alas, when Richard flew a test flight at sunrise, the verdict was NO GO. The winds were just too much. They'll try again tomorrow to take the 10 St. Marks cranes home.

A fabulous 3-acre open pen is ready, but the 10 crane-kids will first go to a pen covered by a top net. Dr. Scott Terrell and his vet team from Disney's Animal Kingdom will perform health checks after the birds arrive. The cranes will also be fitted with the colored leg bands that will identify them for the rest of their life. After that happens, the 10 St. Marks birds will be released to their open pen. They will be free to come and go, but safe inside at night as they gradually learn to be wild.

Meanwhile, all 20 birds wait at the staging area in Jefferson County, FL. They are clueless about all the excitement and hope they are creating just a few miles away!



  • (a ) For a few days the 10 birds at St. Marks will be in a smaller pen inside their big pen. Why? Why do the birds still need a pen for their first winter?
  • (b-for-bonus) None of the yearling cranes have returned to their old release pen at St. Marks yet. Why do you think the team will be watchful if any of them show up? (Two of last year's "St. Marks 7" have already completed migration to Florida and bypassed St. Marks. Crane 828 is at Hiwassee and may stay there, but is not likely on a path to St. Marks. Crane #813 has been separate since spring migration and is unlikely to go there by herself but 805 and 812 may still show up.)

Helpful Resources today:
A Second Winter Home: St. Marks NWR >>
Feeling Blue and Crabby: Whooping Crane Winter Diet >>


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