Wind, Rain, Storms (+ 0 Miles)
December 9, 2008: Migration Day 54

The handlers guide the birds back to the safety of the pen after yesterday's exercise session.

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration

Liz calls it a triple whammy: Blustery south winds on the ground a storm system moving in and howling winds aloft at +50mph. You know the rest of the story. Luckily, the birds exercised yesterday. Liz tells the story:

"I stood at the end of the field, and Heather hid in the tall grass to capture some images. Brooke, Walt, and Gerald walked the remaining 300 yards to the pen to release the birds. All the birds shot out of the pen as if to say, 'What took you guys so long? We’ve gotta fly!'

"I stood at the end of the pen field and flapped the arm of my baggy costume to encourage the chicks to fly. They were so anxious to go that by the time they were down to my end, they were all well above my head and in formation heading south. I watched as all 14 flew down the valley and out of sight. Half of me secretly wished for them to keep going to Florida, but the other half started to panic at not seeing them anymore.

"After what seemed an eternity, I spied the chicks in the distance coming our way. They once again flew over my head back towards the pen. After circling several times, they set their wings and came in for a landing around the guys. It was 40 degrees and the birds needed a break from their vigorous exercise. Much flapping and jumping moved through the flock, and soon they were once again airborne. This flight was much shorter and they came back very quickly.

"We let the chicks forage and found turkey feathers for them to play with. We noticed the wind coming up and decided to put the chicks away. They eagerly followed, chasing after the grapes and cranberries we tossed in front of them. After counting beaks to make sure all 14 were safely in the pen, we closed the gate and silently walked away to continue our day."

What caption would you write for the photo of 819 and 829 during yesterday's session? (Click on their hotlinks and scroll to bottom of page.)

In the Classroom:

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a) Many of you want to see more photos of "your" chicks. However, a clue in the story above tells one reason why photos of individual birds are not easy to get. What clue? (HINT: Where was Heather?)
  • (b-for-bonus) What do you predict for tomorrow's weather? Look for the "L" for low-pressure system. What wind direction/weather is associated with lows?

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