Migration Complete! (+26
Photo Frances Brown
Whoopee! The Chass Five, the last of the Class of 2010, flew the final 26 air miles of their 1,285-mile migration! They are safely home on their new wintering grounds at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Their farewell flight with the ultralight planes ended at 8:56 a.m. The release pen is in a marshy area five miles out from the coastline, in a private and remote area accessible only by airboat.
Costumed handlers were on the ground to call the birds down. They already wear their new leg bands, attached while they spent all those days at Gilchrist County. Now a new life as wild, free cranes begins. They'll have supervision from two experts and the safety of a huge pen with food and water, but they can freely come and go. Come spring, they will fly their first unaided migration north to Wisconsin. When these crane-kids are about five years old, they could become parents of their own chicks in the summer nesting season.
The wonderful Class of 2010 is the tenth group to be guided by ultralight aircraft from central Wisconsin to Florida for the winter. Several Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chicks also made their first southward migration. High fives and hearty congratulations to the Operation Migration Team for an outstanding migration, and to the entire Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership for a conservation story to celebrate. Congratulations to YOU, too, for hanging in there with the cranes and planes on this outstanding adventure! We'll see you back on the Web for Journey North reports starting Feb. 11. Over and out!
*After the stop-out that began Dec. 17, the team resumed numbering the days on January 12.