November 27, 2001
Another Small Gain
This morning's take-off was at 7:35. "Normally cranes migrate during midday when the sun's heat is the strongest and it creates thermals or rising columns of air, says Joe Duff. "They soar on these elevators like hawk or eagles, seldom flapping their wings. Under good conditions they can stay aloft for hours and cover hundreds of miles at a time with little effort." Are you wondering why the ultralight cranes have only flown about 20 miles in each of the past few days? Joe explains why:
Meanwhile, take a close look at this great photo. Kelly Maguire sent it while with the team in the middle of Illinois. Kelly explains: "We are filling their 'puddle' and they like to entertain themselves with the hose. The chicks are in their travel pen. The 'camo' you see behind them is one of the enclosure panels. Some of the panels are covered so the cranes can't see through them. Other panels are fencing they can look out of. We usually tried to set up so the chicks could see an open area or marsh and not see an area from which we approach on foot. Just behind the chicks is another waterer, and the pan on the right is a gravity flow feeder. They had two of these, which lets all the chicks eat with out too much hassle. Sometimes more dominant birds may bully submissive chicks away from one feeder. Having two feeders gives submissive chicks a chance to go to a different feeder."
The young cranes are now within a few days of what will become the new Eastern flock's winter home. Each year for the next five or so years, another new group of chicks will follow the ultralights on the same route. Kelly explains the long-range plans for this reintroduction project, for which this year's ultralight flight with endangered whooping cranes is an historic first:
Map the Migration
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