Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
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From Egg to Sky Hatch Year 2004
Timeline of History in the Making

For the first time in over a hundred years, endangered Whooping cranes once again grace the skies of Eastern and Midwestern North America. Their story began as it does for all birds, in the confines of earthbound eggs. In a few short weeks, the chicks grow into the tallest birds in North America. These special birds will take off on a human-led ultralight migration this fall, joining the pioneer ancestral flock of whooping cranes reintroduced in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Each autumn from 2001 until 2005 and perhaps beyond, ultralight airplanes acting as "parents" will lead a special few of the year's young chicks on a chosen migration route to their new wintering site in Florida. Then everyone watches and waits! Will the young cranes have learned enough to migrate on their own back to their summer home in Wisconsin? Using radio and also satellite technology, we'll track the cranes' travels next spring. Come along for this history-making journey as partners in conservation reintroduce a NEW flock of migratory whooping cranes where they've been gone for over a century!

Share this historic conservation news with your school and community! It's easy to make a timeline that follows the cranes from egg to first flight through the chicks' first migration. When school starts, we'll post Friday e-mail reports with downloadable booklets. Reading these short, lively booklets helps to catch up on the chicks' lives so far. Collect dates and facts and draw pictures to illustrate events from the time the chicks hatched last spring. During October and November our reports will be posted every day of the migration! You can download those daily reports to complete your timeline--and then join Journey North next spring to see if and when the chicks return to Wisconsin, all on their own!

1. Make your timeline into a public display by creating it on a long wall or in a hallway. Use a string 14 meters long and mark off one meter per month (April 2004 through May 2005). You'll follow the first year of the lives of the 2004 chicks, and the FOURTH year of the historic project to reintroduce cranes to the East by teaching them a migration route using ultralight airplanes.

2. Look for background booklets as well as daily Migration Highlights of the 2004 chicks, posted here:

3. Read the Migration Highlights, then summarize the information in your own words. Download and print the photos provided, then make your own captions. Attach the pictures and your captions on your timeline at the appropriate dates.

4. Do your own research and add background information to your display. To begin, visit the Whooping Crane Facts and Lessons, Activities and Information sections of this Web site. Learn all about captive breeding, imprinting, crane calls, flight formation and more!

Try This! Extensions

  • Keep an "Endangered Species Reintroduction Journal." The Highlights will include open-ended journaling questions for you to think and write about.
  • Younger students might want to keep a vocabulary list. Watch your vocabulary grow as the cranes grow! (See Glossary.)
  • If you made a classroom timeline with this project for the inaugural year 2001, the second year 2002, or third year 2003, put them up. As the 2004 timeline grows, compare and contrast milestones, differences, and similarities.
  • Watch for opportunities to add artifacts or models to your display area. For example, make a life-sized crane. (Whooping cranes are almost 5 feet tall and weigh only about 11-16 pounds.) For demonstration purposes, include items whose weight matches the weight of a real crane. Or stretch a 7-foot rope along the wall and compare your "wingspan" with a whooper's wingspan.

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