Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

December 11, 2004
Migration Day 63

Sad News, and One More Day to Wait
Cranes in Pen.
Photo OM

Just as every other day, all three ultralights were airborne at sunrise from the Gilchrist County site. The pilots had today's weather reports, but they always check it out for themselves; conditions on the ground seldom match conditions aloft. Sure enough, winds "upstairs" were unstable and from the wrong direction. Flying today would be risky. But the air is cooler. The humidity is lower. The weather is changing and conditions tomorrow sound near perfect.

Another reason they didn't fly today was the condition of crane #406, who became ill yesterday and worsened during the night. This brave and loyal bird was taken to get veterinary care in Gainesville, but did not survive the day. She was always dependable and cooperative, and one of the few females in this year's cohort.

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

If tomorrow's weather arrives as forecast, north winds would give a good boost to the flyers. They would be able to cover the rest of the 68 miles in one flight. Everything is ready. We are optimistic that the migration will end tomorrow! We hope the folks who have come each morning to the Crystal River Shopping Mall will finally be rewarded with a flyover.

Try This! Journaling Questions
  • The pilots usually don't take the cranes over 1,000 feet in altitude. But they climbed to 4,000 feet when they crossed the highest peak on this migration path?the Cumberland Plateau. How high is 4000 feet? Take a look at our altitude chart and make some comparisons:
    Up, Up and Away: From Skyscrapers to Outer Space
    1. Is 4,000 ft. above or below the elevation of the Monarch Butterfly overwintering sanctuary (El Rosario sanctuary) in the mountains of Mexico?
    2. Is it above or below the typical maximum altitude of thermals (used by wild migrating cranes) in North America?
    3. Is it above or below the average maximum altitude of a hot air balloon flight? 4. By how much is it above or below the world's tallest building?
  • How many females were in the 2004 ultralight flock? Why is losing a female such a "double whammy?"

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

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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