Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

September 22, 2001

Back in the Air

Photo Jim Carpenter, Wild Birds Unlimited


It was a good day for the pilots and the cranes, who resumed their training flights after the government reopened the nation's rural airspace to small airplanes. Because migration time is fast approaching, every day counts for building the birds' endurance. After an 8-1/2 minute flight with the cranes, pilot Deke Clark said, "They flew really beautifully this morning."

Before leaving on migration, the birds must be able to follow the planes for about 50 minutes at a time. It's been several days since the banding and medical exam, and the birds had an unexpectedly long break in training before taking to the skies again today. At first, they were very unhappy with Joe, Deke, and Dan--the costumed "traitors" who grabbed them and put hoods over their heads so they could not see the veterinarians during the September 11 exams. The pilots knew it would take time to rebuild the birds' trust. Then came other setbacks: bad weather for over a week, the ban on air travel that left Deke and Dan stranded when they went home to visit their families, and the FAA grounding of all aircraft. But today they're back in the skies!

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

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