Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

October 10, 2004
Migration Day 1

Migration Begins!

Just one day past the October 9 target date, 14 hatch year 2004 chicks are GONE SOUTH on their first migration! Each "flyable" day for about the next two months, ultralight planes will lead the way into unfamiliar terrain as the young cranes learn the route to their new winter home.

Day 1 had some surprises. The air temp was 32 degrees, and ground fog lay over the cranes' pen site so the take-off was delayed. Seven of the birds (403, 405, 406, 412, 415, 416 & 417) flew with the ultralight, but the other seven refused to leave the refuge! What to do? The crew put each reluctant bird in a crate and drove those seven to the first stopover location.

The flying seven covered 24. 8 miles of the 1200-mile migration today. They left their familiar home at Necedah NWR at 7:48 CDT, and 43 mintues later reached their first stopover site in south Juneau County, WI. The birds got safely settled in their travel enclosure, and now we must wait until daybreak tomorrow to see what happens on Day 2. If the winds and weather are right, the pilots will try to get all 14 birds in the air for the next leg of the journey. In unfamiliar territory, the cranes are more likely to stick with the aircraft in coming days.

Now you can start filling in your Migration Comparison Chart!

Map the Migration
Make your own map using the latest migration data

Try This! Journaling Questions
  • How does this year's departure date compare with past years? (Dates are given on the comparison chart.) Make some predictions for the other categories on the chart and see what happens. (As new information comes in, you can always revise your predictions.)
  • Meet the Flock. If you could "adopt" a crane to follow, which would it be? Why isn't crane #418 migrating south with his flockmates? What do you think will happen to him? What is the age range of this year's birds (the difference in age between the oldes and the youngest)? How do you think this could affect the migration?
  • Why do you think the birds for the reintroduction project are carefully identified by number, but never given names? (Remember that ultralight-led migrations with whoopers started as a bold experiment in 2001. It proved successful, but this tiny new flock still has a different status from the Western flock, the only remaining natural migratory flock of Whooping cranes. Read more about the Eastern flock's special status here.)


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

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