Windy, Windy, Windy (+ 0 Miles)
December 8, 2008: Migration Day 53

Photo Operation Migration

It's cold and clear, but strong winds out of the south mean no go. On down-day three in Hardin County, Tennessee, you can dig into the notes from the field journal of Chris, who was lead pilot when they arrived:

"This year’s cohort is flying fantastically, and I was amazed at their ability to climb with me. We soon had 1000 feet of altitude and just kept on climbing, encouraged by Joe’s promise of a faster groundspeed above 2000 feet. We kept going, passing through an inversion layer at about 2800 feet above ground level, where the temperature finally began to warm slightly...I eventually got to 3500 feet above ground level, but dropped back down to 3000 feet as I lost a few MPH due to a change in wind speed. We averaged about 57 mph and decided that we could easily skip a site."

[Coming down to land] "The air was rather turbulent down low as the thermals were building and wind was blowing over the valleys. Brooke, Joe and I led the birds off to a nearby creek out of view of the site where the pen would be. After the birds settled down and began exploring their new surroundings, Joe and I slipped off to help Richard and Brian set up the pen. Thirty minutes later, Joe went in to signal to Brooke that the pen was ready. The birds walked out into the clearing and decided to fly the 200 yards to the pen instead of walking. Once aloft, they likely discovered a bit of free lift. Soon they were out of sight, gaining altitude in the thermally air. After what seemed like two hours (but was probably only 10 minutes) the cranes reappeared from the rim of the valley, their landing gear down — and they soon rejoined us on the ground. We silently thanked them for returning, since none of us really wanted to go back up into the trashy air to herd them back."

In the Classroom:

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a) Why do you think the birds came back to the pen?
  • (b-for-bonus) What surprised you or intrigued you about what Chris wrote? What was the author's purpose? Who was his audience? How did he make his journal interesting for you to read?


  • Migration History: Nov. 28, a no-school day because of Thanksgiving, was the one-year anniversary of an exciting event on migration. Click here to see what happened!

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