Migration Highlights
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Fall 2004
Target date for departure
October 9
Actual date for departure
October 10
Number of birds at takeoff
Number of birds surviving fall migration
Date migration ends
December 12, 2004
Total days of fall migration

Number of actual flight days (progress made)


Number of no-fly days (grounded or turned back)

Longest flight
2 hours 58 minutes (157 miles covered)
Total miles flown
Days on Wintering Grounds
107 days*
Number of birds before spring migration
Number of birds surviving spring migration

*107 days is the average of two numbers (11 cranes stayed 104 days and 1 crane stayed 110 days). Chick #418, who was not led by ultralight but left behind to follow older cranes south, stayed 129 days.


  • The flock started with 15 birds but only 13 were delivered to Florida by the ultralights. (Chick #406 died on Day 63 of the migration; Chick #418 was left behind due to feather problems, and he later followed some older ultrawhoopers to find his way.)
  • Chick #418 was left behind when the ultralights and his 14 flockmates left on migration. He had problems with his feathers so wasn't ready to migrate. Instead, he became the first young whooper for supplemental migration: a chick conditioned behind the ultralight aircraft but then put with older birds to see if he could learn the migration route by following them.
  • Only 7 launched with the trike on Day 1. Others were crated and trucked to the first stopover site.
  • Day 4 was the first time all 14 birds went the distance by AIR.
  • On Oct. 24, the two youngest (419 and 420) and the usual trouble maker, #414, had to be caught, crated, and driven to the next site when they dropped out.
  • Morgan County, IN was the 8th stop and only the 2nd time that the ground crew didn't have to pick up any dropouts.
  • They had some long weather delays. The longest were 7 days in Green County, WI and 7 days in Meigs County, TN (Hiwassee State Wildlife Area).
  • The team searched for more than 8 hours before finding and retrieving runaway crane #412 on Day 48.
  • The first air pickup took place Nov. 7, Day 29.
  • An air drop took place Nov. 8, Day 30, under unusual landing conditions.
  • They skipped three stops in Georgia in one day. Flying was good and they just kept going!
  • Crane #406 died at migration stopover 20 (1 day before the migration ended) due to health problems.
  • They made 21 stops, including the final one at Chassahowitzka.
  • Total flying time for the migration was 33 hours and 11 minutes.