Chass 7 Complete Migration (+ 26 Miles)
January 23, 2009: Migration Day 88

Touchdown at Chass Release Pen More Arrival Photos >>
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration


They're HOME — and what a ride! On his last flight with these magnificent bird, Chris said, "We passed over Manatees that had gathered in the warmer waters of the Homosassa river, and then flew out over the marshes and islands that make up Florida’s west coast." Then the Chass 7 reached their release pen at Chassahowitzka NWR but Heather sent word: "At 10:43 there are 6 on the ground and one very reluctant bird that does NOT want to land. They made it out to the pen at 9:43 but couldn’t convince them to land! They’ve been airborne for two hours now so the pilots may not have enough fuel to fly back to the Dunnellon airport and may have to land at Post Oak instead." Sure enough, this update came at 10:53: "Brian just called to say they’re flying back to Post Oak WITH the bird and they’ll box him for an airboat ride out to the release pen." Whew! Migration finally complete—even for wayward male #804, who arrived on an airboat.

On the ground to call the birds down were costumed Sara, Eva, and Rosemary. Health checks and banding will happen next week. Then a new life as wild, free cranes begins. (They'll have supervision from two experts and the safety of a huge pen from which they can freely come and go until they fly their first unaided journey north.)

The amazing Class of 2008 is the eighth group to be guided by ultralights from central Wisconsin to Florida for the winter. Six Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chicks also made their first southward migration. High fives and hearty congratulations to the Operation Migration Team for an outstanding migration, and to the entire Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership for a conservation story to celebrate. And congratulations to YOU for hanging in there with the cranes and planes for this outstanding adventure! We'll see you back when the Journey North begins!

In the Classroom:

  • Journal Question: Biologists do not think the long, drawn-out migration and late arrival will affect the birds' spring migration. What do you think? Will they know when to leave? Will they find their way back home to the summer nesting grounds in Wisconsin? How long will it take them? Make your predictions in your journal. Then join us for reports of the young cranes' first journey north — all by themselves!


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