Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

December 6, 2003
Day 52

Over the Border to Florida!

Photo OM

HELLOOOOOOO Florida! At 7:44 on this clear and COLD morning, all 16 young whoopers took off as Brooke Pennypacker's ultralight swooped low over the pen for an air pick up. Brooke led them north into the wind, just as birds in the wild take off to get extra lift. Once they cleared the tree line at the north end of the field, Brooke turned them gradually west, then south--toward Florida!

A few miles out, several of the birds at the back of the long line peeled away. When Brooke slowed so they could catch up and fall back into place, it looked like trouble. The entire line broke up! The other pilots immediately winged in to collect wayward birds. Brooke ended up with four, Joe with ten, and Richard van Heuvelen with two. Thanks to the northwest winds this morning, the fliers averaged 57 mph and covered the 98.5-mile leg in 1 hour and 51 minutes. They're now settled in Hamilton County, Florida, but we hope that changes with another flight tomorrow.

What's next? At least one, but more likely two, stops remain before the final flight when the pilots guide the 8-month-old cranes out to their isolated pen 5 miles off Florida's central Gulf coast. On the final leg, the pilots will fly the cranes over the Crystal River Mall north parking lot so lucky onlookers can witness this magnificent "homecoming." Don't you wish you could be there?

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

Try This! Journaling Question
  • Look at the Refuge maps below. (Click to enlarge). Each is home to the world's endangered Whooping cranes. What do you notice about the geography of each? What makes each a good place for Whooping Cranes? Consider the human populations and human activities of each location. What disadvantages or outright dangers to cranes can you think of, if any? (See topics our our Lessons, Activities and Information page.)

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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