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November 17, 2004
Migration Day 39

Halfway: Cumberland County, TENNESSEE!
Photo OM

The entire team is in high spirits, and no wonder. Today's flight brought them to the halfway mark of the journey south! At 6:53 this morning, Brooke gave Vicki and Robert their cue to release the cranes. Flying low, Brooke approached the pen site and ten birds joined up with him. The pen here is in a beautiful valley; the aircraft must circle before beginning the long climb to leave the valley. Brooke doubled back over the pen in hopes of picking up the remaining four birds. Sure enough, they too joined the airborne flock. At roughly 6 miles out, eight of them broke from Brooke's trike. Joe Duff intercepted them before they had a chance to return to the valley they had just left. One hour and 50 minutes after take-off, Joe landed first with his eight. Next came Richard with no birds. (He got to sightsee the whole way.) Then Brooke landed with his six dedicated flyers. They covered 63.4 miles, for a total of  652.2  statute miles gone!

New Stopover Site
This year's Cumberland County stopover is a new location. The site in past years was at the base of Walden Ridge. This high ridge in the Appalachian Mountains gives them so much trouble that they call it "The Beast." The new stop is 12 miles to the north of The Beast. This will give the pilots 12 miles in which to climb with the young Whooping cranes to the altitude needed to cross the Appalachian obstacle. With any luck (and a bit of good weather), they should arrive at the Hiwassee Refuge tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!          

Injured cranes update: Of the two Whooping cranes shot in Kansas near the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge on November 6th, the one with the amputated leg has died. The bird with the injured wing is not feeding itself. But it is stable and will be shipped from Kansas State University to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on November 18. A third white-plumaged whooping crane was also shot at in the same incident in Kansas. Based on circumstantial evidence, this may be the crane still being seen at Quivira. This bird is being monitored and has been observed making several short flights to forage. Experts hope the bird will continue its migration.

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  • What's your predicted date for the Eastern flock's arrival in Florida?


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Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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