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December 3, 2001
Day 48: Journey's End!

Whoop it Up! They're HOME

 

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Crystal River, FL

The migration is officially over! The young cranes flew the final 25.1 miles this morning (total:1217.8 miles) and all seven are now at their temporary holding pen in Homosassa, where they'll stay overnight. If flying conditions are good tomorrow, the pilots will fly the birds out and drop them at Chassahowitzka. Dan will already be there, waiting on the ground by the pen with the top net removed. Then the ultralight comes in from high above and makes a steep descent with the birds following. Halfway down, Joe turns off his vocalizer that's playing the "follow me" call and Dan turns his on, calling the young cranes down--and HOME. Here they will undergo a "gentle release" over the next month as they slowly revert to the wild. Listen to Joe describe what happens:

Audio Clip

( .wav file, 205K, .aif file, 205K)

You can also read the team's comments after landing today:

As you join the celebration of this landmark conservation event, you might enjoy a special poem. Poet Own Neill wrote it for his friend Bill Lishman, co-founder of Operation Migration. The occasion was Operation Migration's first migratory crossing of Lake Ontario with Canada geese in 1993. (This is the migration featured in the Motion Picture Fly Away Home and the founding work for today's first migration with an endangered species.) Mr. Neill couldn't be at the Lake Ontario send-off to celebrate with them, so he wrote the poem as a gift to Bill. You'll find it here, along with some journaling questions:

We also share thoughts of two leaders in whooping crane conservation. Tom Stehn said, "We need species to survive that have been there since the Ice Age," he says. "To keep them alive in captivity -- that's just not enough." George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, says that losing this species would be "like destroying original works of art of a great master that can never be reproduced."

In mythology, whooping cranes represent longevity, peace and tranquility. That is our wish for this young flock of ancestors for the whooping cranes that YOUR ancestors will see in the skies over eastern North America. From Journey South headquarters in Minnesota, this is Jane saying "over and out" for the first migration in the whooping crane eastern reintroduction.We hope you'll join Journey North in the spring as the story of this young flock continues!


Try This! Journal Question

  • You have learned that WCEP hopes to teach this same migration route to a new generation of birds each fall for about the next five years with the goal of building a flock of 125 birds by 2020. Write a letter to the children you may someday have, describing your thoughts and feelings on this historic day--the completion of the first human-led migration of an endangered species. Save your letter in a special place. Read it way in the future, or give it someday to your children to share your memories of history in the making!

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



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

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