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Comparing Ultralight-Led Migrations

2001

2002

2003
2004
Target date for departure

October 13

Oct. 7 and then Oct. 10

October 8
October 9
Actual departure

October 17

October 13

October 16
October 10
Number of birds at takeoff

8

17

16
14
Number of planes

4: lead, chase, & scout ultralights and one top cover

5: four ultralights and one top cover
5: four ultralights and one top cover
 5: four ultralights and one top cover
Journey's end

December 3

Nov. 30

Dec. 8
Dec. 12
Number of birds reaching Florida

7

16

16
13
Total days en route

48

49

54
64
Number of no-fly days (grounded or turned back)

24

28

34 (includes 4 days when they turned back and made no progress)
43
Number of actual flight days (progress made)

24

21

20
21
Longest flight

2 hours 9 minutes

2 hours 15 minutes

3 hours 4 minutes (200 miles--covering most of GA. New record!)
2 hours 58 minutes (157 miles covered)
Shortest flight

38 minutes

44 minutes

41 minutes
  43 minutes
Total Miles South (*after OM's final adjustments)

*1164.2

*1227.8

*1191
1204.4
Number of birds surviving winter/returning to Wisconsin

5

16

16 survived but 12 returned to WI . (#319 was killed in summer in MI by bobcat; 3 others stayed in MI all summer.)
 12
Days on Wintering Grounds
126
121
 117 days *
 **107



Click here for the daily migration reports.

NOTES:

  • 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.
  • 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 LaSalle Cty, IL 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).
  • They 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 (Gilchrist County, FL) 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.

 

(Read Notes on previous migrations: 2001, 2002, 2003.)

 


Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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