October 20, 2004
Migration Day 11

Crane Wrangling in Humidity Leads to Another No Go
 Ever wonder what it must look like to fly next to the cranes? Photo OM

Crane wrangling. It's an important part of the success of the Whooping crane migration. When pilots Richard van Heuvelen, Joe Duff and Brooke Pennypacker set out on a typical day of the migration they often must work hard to keep the cranes on the task of following the ultralights. Today's problem was the humidity level of 86%. it ws caused by yesterday's rain showers, coupled with the calm winds. And moist, humid air makes it hard for flapping, flying cranes to breathe. Here's what happened:

This morning, after waiting for the light haze to burn off, Richard van Heuvelen launched the cranes. Joe Duff and Brooke Pennypacker held back to pick up stragglers. Nine birds formed on Richard's ultralight, so Brooke moved in to pick up the remaining 5. Richard's group began breaking so Joe moved in to assist. After 16 minutes of crane wrangling, the flight was aborted when birds began breathing hard through open beaks, due to the high humidity. (See Day 4 for four signs that tell the pilots the cranes are getting tired.) As Operation Migration's Heather Ray said: "I suppose the good news is that the cranes had 16 minutes of flight time with the aircraft this morning. The bad news is that we're still in Green County, Wisconsin."

Stay tuned for favorable winds at daybreak tomorrow!

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

Try This! Journaling Questions
• Today would be a good day to update your comparison chart. How does this year's migration compare with 2001-2003? When you compare the total number of days it took to reach Florida for the migrations in 2001, 2002 and 2003 what's your prediction for the 2004 migration? What did you consider in making your prediction?
• Winds today were at 3 knots out of the North-Northeast. How many miles per hour is that? Formula: Knots X 1.1508 = miles per hour (mph)