Disadvantages of Down Days
Joe Duff's Thoughts on October 22, 2006

List disadvantages Joe tells about. How many do you find?

Pilot Joe Duff scrapes snow off the wings at night.
Operation Migration

The longer the birds are confined to the pen the more we have to contend with boredom and displaced aggression.

When we are grounded for a few days we let the birds out occasionally to stretch their wings and get some exercise. They fly a few circuits and land back next to the handlers but we are reluctant to do it too often in case they get in the habit of returning to this location. The departure from here should be a one- way trip, and we need to minimize any tendency to turn back. We balance that against their need to for freedom and a chance to fly, but there is also the fear of power line collision or the possibility that they may see the aircraft and land somewhere inappropriate to our isolation protocol.

The longer we are down, the less likely they are to follow us much beyond the horizon. Birds are creatures of habit. They are very willing to follow our aircraft if it's part of their daily routine. But "habit" also makes them reluctant to leave if flying is only an occasional event.

The longer we are delayed, the greater chance we have of encountering deep snow. We have had flurries the last few days and last evening even rose in the middle of the night to clean the wings of excessive weight. As winter gets closer we face the real concern of a foot of snow that would make taking off and landing difficult.

Some members of our migration team are volunteers and have limited tolerance for a migration that could extend past Christmas. Some of us have families at home who suffer our absence, and each day on the ground brings more disappointment.

Expenses continue to mount whether we fly or not. We have the cost of propane to heat the trailers, gas to fuel the trucks, aviation fuel for the trikes to test the morning skies, and other expenses for general supplies for humans and birds. All add to the cost of migration—despite our not going anywhere.

The more down days, the more our followers lose interest. With this reduction in interest comes a slowdown in our support—and it becomes harder to cover the cost of a migration that grows increasingly expensive.

Try This! Journaling Question
  • Even if the number of down-days makes a record, what POSITIVE records might the team still make during a migration?

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