September, 2006

Tip: Bookmark the Whooping Crane Home Page


Clip: Watch Slow-Motion Crane Training Flight
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Year Six: Journey South with Endangered Whooping Cranes Led by Ultralights
Welcome! Year SIX in the historic whooping crane reintroduction/migration project is nearing takeoff. Eighteen hatch-year 2006 chicks for the new Eastern flock are now in "Flight School" at Wisconsin's Necedah (say Nuh SEE duh) National Wildlife Refuge. They are daily becoming better flyers. That's good news, because in about five weeks they must be ready for their thrilling but risky first migration departing in October and led by ultralight airplane "parents" to teach the way.

Also summering at the refuge (and often interfering with training!) are all but four of the 61 gleaming white adults from the five previous ultralight-led migrations—plus the flock's first wild-hatched chicks! The long-awaited event took place in June. Watching carefully through binoculars, experts say both chicks are just days from taking their first flights.

Last Year's Chicks Meet the FIRST Family!

An additional five mottled young whooper chicks are being costume-reared for a different flight plan. After the ultralights depart with their 18 chicks, these five will be released among the experienced adult whooping cranes summering on the refuge. If all goes according to plan, they will follow the older cranes all the way to Florida, thus learning their lifelong migration route. These whooper chicks are part of the Direct Autumn Release (DAR), which is another step for adding young cranes to this growing new flock. This is year two for the DAR program.

Will the chicks all make the journey safely? How long will this year's migration take? What highlights and lowlights await on the 1,200-mile journey through seven states? You'll find out on Journey South this fall, and this message tells how to participate. We're glad you're here!

Where Are They Now? Meet the Cranes and See Egg-to-Sky Timeline

Because this year's story really began during the summer, now's the time to meet the new chicks and catch up on their progress. We've kept track of the 18 chicks since they hatched last spring. After learning their personalities, you'll see why many students enjoy "adopting" a crane to follow throughout fall's journey south and spring's return journey north!

Our timeline of key events will help you follow the flock's milestones so far. Use the information to start a school or classroom timeline now; add to your timeline when the daily migration Updates start in October.

FRIDAYS: E-mail Summaries Arrive
Pre-migration: Each Friday, a brief e-mail notice gives current newsy tidbits and announces the next of six downloadable booklets for building background.

During migration: When migration begins, the Friday e-mails will summarize that week's Highlight Updates (complete with latest maps, facts, photos, and fun) that were posted DAILY on the Web.

E-mail Summaries are posted to registered participants on FRIDAYS:
Sep. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17. . .or until this year's newest Eastern whooping crane chicks reach their winter home in Florida!

BEFORE Migration: Build Background with Downloadable Booklets for Kids

Do you wonder what makes a chick think a tiny airplane is its mom? Why are they following a 350-pound airplane and not their own parents? What are those billowy white costumes about? Why is pecking order a big deal when raising these chicks? Our just-for-kids nonfiction booklets offer facts while building reading skills and supporting standards. Between now and the migration departure in October, a series of weekly downloadable nonfiction booklets (in a recommended chronological order) will cover the “Big Ideas” of the young cranes' development and training. A companion Teacher Guide helps make the most of each booklet and coordinating lessons on the Web. Booklets are also available on the Web in slide show format.


Photo Heather Ray
DURING Migration: How to Track Migration in the Classroom

Follow Daily Migration Updates
Come fly with the whoopers! Thanks to unusually dry weather and stable air that made stead training possible, this year's target departure date is the earliest ever: October 1. Weather permitting, that's when 18 chicks will take to the skies with ultralight airplanes guiding them south. Daily Web postings give you the latest news, maps, and photos starting on Day One of the migration.

Map the Migration
This link tells you how to purchase a map or make your own so you can track the migration from Wisconsin all the way to Florida using information included in our Updates. We also suggest fun ways to handle students' real-life questions as they follow the daily map and narratives during migration.

Keep Migration Journals
New! Print our ready-to-go templates so students can make migration journals, writing creative headlines and summarizing the young cranes' adventures in their own words. Pages have room for responses to the great Journaling Questions that end each of the daily Web Updates, too. The coming season will be rich with concrete examples of key science concepts and organizing themes that can provide focus for student journals: habitat, weather, flight, navigation, adaptations, costume-rearing protocol, endangered species, and more. Use these ready-made journal pages as we've designed them, or download and edit them to fit your needs.

Predict and Compare
Keep records on this chart as the migration unfolds. You'll have an instant comparison to the previous five ultralight-led migrations!

Photo OM

Fall Lessons and Activities
How do cranes fly? Why do planes have to lead the birds? What's it like to fly an ultralight? Who's on the team to carry out the migration? Why are whooping cranes endangered? How many are alive today? How many chicks will survive their first migration and make it back to Wisconsin in the spring? We'll help you discover answers (and more questions!) as the exciting migration unfolds. To learn more about this historic study, see:


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