St. Marks 7 Complete Migration! (+ 28 Miles)
January 17, 2009: Migration Day 82

Look! Over 2,000 people waited very patiently in the chilly temperatures for St. Marks NWR's first-ever Whooping cranes to fly overhead. As they passed over the obediently silent, thrilled crowd at the flyover celebration, Heather said the birds didn't flap at all. "They simply glided by, riding the vortices created by the wing of the aircraft."
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

The St. Marks Seven (805, 812, 813, 826, 828, 829 and 830) are home! Pilot Richard launched their final flight with the ultralight on a clear, chilly day. But the birds gave Richard a tough contest. They showed some independence by trying at least twice to break away instead of following. They even managed to get the flight path about 10 miles off course to the east! But Richard and his 'wingmen' (Joe, Brooke, and Chris) were expert air shepherds. They got the birds over the heads of the excited crowd waiting to welcome and offer sanctuary to some of North America's most beautiful and most endangered birds. Migration complete at 1113 miles. Hooray!

On this Arrival Day:

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a ) For a few days the seven birds at St. Marks will be in a smaller pen inside their big pen. Why? Find out.
  • (b-for-bonus It took the work of dozens and dozens of hardworking people to make this joyous day happen. You may be surprised to know all the effort behind it. Hundreds of workers included a work crew from the prison. The men slogged through the dense underbrush in the heat of the summer to carve out the half-mile foot path to the pen so the winter monitoring staff can now reach the pen and check the birds and their food and water. For what do you, or would you be willing to, volunteer your time and efforts? Why do people volunteer? What would you say to all the volunteers who help the Operation Migration team all along the migration?


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