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October 22, 2002
Day 10

Standing Down in Green County, WI

Can you identify these Whoopers? Use their banding codes!
Photo OM for WCEP.

Winds are 10-15 MPH out of the right direction and the temperature is a just-right 42 degrees F. So why is the migration standing down? If the winds are blowing 10-15 MPH on the ground, chances are they are much faster at higher altitudes. Heather told Journey North: "We can fly if there are winds on the ground at 5 MPH coming from the right direction. That would provide a nice, gentle tailwind. But at the current wind speed, the tailwind would be more like a blast. It's just too risky. AND we might just end up getting blown all the way to Mexico!"

But there's more to the story. Remember the first two drop-outs in Sunday's less-than-perfect flight to Green County? They were flying at a low altitude while approaching the tree-filled ridge. Because of this, the birds actually clipped some tree branches and dropped out, landing in the forest below them. Dan Sprague of USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Kelly Maguire of the International Crane Foundation were able to track and capture these two after two hours of effort. Crane #1 had a cut on the inside of her thigh, no doubt caused by a tree branch. She was taken to project veterinarian Dr. Barry Hartup at ICF, who gave the birds stitches to close her wound. Dr. Hartup ordered two days rest and antibiotics for Crane #1. Then she was transported to join her cohort in Green County, where Dan had already delivered the other reluctant youngsters. As Heather said, "If the birds only knew what these costumed humans go through to make sure they all arrive at the same location!" (You'll want to record these events on your chart.)

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Try This! Journaling Question

  • Take a close look at the photos in today's Highlight. Which ones can you identify by banding codes? Write a descriptive paragraph about one of the photos. Write a clear topic sentence and then choose words that help create a snapshot, as though you are describing the scene to someone who cannot see but wants to know every detail.
  • Read this excerpt from Heather's report (see October 21 entry) about the troubled flight to Green County on Sunday. Then write your thoughts about this question: What are some factors that help ensure a good take-off?

To start with, the take-off was hindered by three birds who seemed reluctant to exit the doors of the enclosure because there was a small stand of trees that they would have to walk next to before they could join the waiting aircraft on the grass strip. Once the entire group was out, some birds were already airborne and as the three trikes lifted off, three other birds decided to turn back and join the two costumed handlers who had not had time to hide inside the pen because they were trying to ensure all of the cranes made it out of the pen.


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

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