Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

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December 2, 2005
Migration Day 50

This wild whooper was seen migrating to Texas. Is it a chick or an adult? How do you know?
Photo Edwina Reid

No-fly Day in Pike County, GA+ 0 Miles
After gaining 101 miles yesterday, the group is grounded today. Winds are indeed from the north, but way stronger than predicted. Winds at 3000 feet are 30 knots; if the birds and trikes climb to 1000 feet, the winds would be blowing with a fury. They'll stay put. They've come 860.4 miles, and they are itching to make more progress!

Getting Ready in Florida
Meanwhile, a stopover/layover site in Marion County, Florida is being prepared for the crane-kids. This layover site is new, added this year for the first time. Why? Well, several of the older cranes have already landed at "their" old pen site in Florida. After four years of migrations to this pen site, more than 35 big cranes could stop in — or decide to stay. This was their first winter home; they remember it well and think they own it. Besides, they remember free crane chow in the feeders! But the pen is for the safety of the newest chicks migrating with the ultralights. Older whoopers at the pen site can harrass the youngsters. They pick fights. They try to drive the chicks away. But if the older birds find no food at the feeders, they usually leave. That's what the team hopes they'll do. The team thinks by waiting several days or weeks before bringing the new chicks to their final winter home at the "Chass" pen, any white (older) whoopers will give up, get bored, and go away. In the meantime, where will they put the chicks once they reach Florida? They have a new pen site for a temporary home in Marion County. This is the first year, so not all details are firm yet. Stay tuned.

Track the Migration

Use our map or make your own with this migration data.

(Click map to enlarge.)

Keep a Migration Journal

Today's Question: Whooper chicks in the wild natural flock migrate with both parents. They stay with them on the parents' territory all winter. From clues above, what is one good reason why they stick by their parents the first winter?

• Migration Math: On Nov. 30, 185 adults + 29 young = 214 whoopers were counted at the natural flock's Texas wintering grounds. With 235 whooping cranes hoped for (after an estimated 5 percent normal mortality during summer and migration), around 91% of the flock has completed the migration from Canada. Where are the others? In Texas, Tom Stehn said, "I’m getting worried since there have been no recent reports of whooping cranes in migration, and last week's strong north winds in the Flyway should have pushed the cranes south." From clues here, calculate the estimated peak number of whooping cranes in the flock before migration from Canada. How many are missing? What do you think happened to them?

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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