Halpata: Temporary Layover Site

Photo USFWS Bill Brooks

The crane-kids headed for Chass will stay first at a temporary layover site in Marion County, Florida. It is in a safe nature preserve called Halpata-Tastanaki Preserve. A team member will be there to make sure the cranes are safe and getting enough food. Halpata was used for the first time in 2005.

Why Don't They Go Right to Their "Chass" Pen?
Since 2001, the ultralights have brought the young chicks to the "Chass" pen site. The returning "graduates" like to claim the chicks' winter pen at Chass as their own. After all, that's where they spent their first winter. That's where they find free crane chow. By now there are many more adult "graduates" and their fondness for the Chass pen site can be a problem. The older whoopers at the pen site can harass the youngsters. They pick fights. They eat the food. They try to drive the youngsters away. This endangers the chicksl.

Starting in 2005 the team thought a different site for the new arrivals was needed. It would keep the chicks safe until enough time passed for all the "graduate" Whooping cranes to stop at their old Chass pen and find nobody home. Then the adult birds give up, get bored, and go away. With the 2007, 2008, and 2009 migrations being so late, the birds didn't stay at Halpata long. They continued on the next flyable day to their release pen at Chass. It's a different story in 2010, when they will fly their final 26 miles sometime after the New Year begins and everything at Chass is ready for them.

Try This! Journal or Discussion Question

  • Have any birds from the previous classes remembered and gone back to the temporary pen at Halpata? If so, what could happen?
  • Will the young crane-kids still be willing to fly with the ultralights after being here for a longer time in 2010? We'll bring you the news when "moving day" happens and the story of this year's journey south is complete.

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