Hello, ALABAMA! (+ 57 Miles)
December 12, 2008: Migration Day 57

Nine cranes landed in snowy Franklin County, Alabama today. How did the other four arrive?
Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

Alabama, here they come! Today was the third try to leave Hardin County, Tennessee after six days of weather delays. The birds made the pilots work for over an hour with a rodeo in the air over the pen. Crane #827 actually refused to exit the pen. It took Heather and Bev working in the pen together to get him out and finally he took off with Joe's plane — which he had all to himself. (Was that his plan all along? See photo.) Four birds (819, 828, 829 and 830) dropped out about 3 miles from the pen site. Walter, John, Bev and Heather took off in the van to capture and crate them, and Bev drove those four birds to Franklin County while Brian went to find and crate dropout 803. Meanwhile, the other nine soldiered on to the Franklin County stopover. Richard described it:

"After what seemed an eternity we were on approach for the snow- covered field. Sliding to a stop, we sat there a moment appreciating the safe landing. While Chris and Brooke put their trikes away, Joe and I walked the birds to a small pond for some well deserved playtime; however, the water was covered in a thin, clear layer of ice. One chick walked out onto the ice, and skidded across it, flailing its feet in a peddling-backwards motion before breaking through and regaining its footing. Then, one by one, the others tried it as well with equal awkwardness. This provided great comic relief for Joe and I as we struggled not to laugh out loud at them.

"We soon convinced them to leave the small pond and walked them to a nearby larger pond without ice, where, one by one, they proceeded to take a bath. Ducking their heads underwater in an awkward stroking fashion, flailing their wings and crouching down, they were soon wet all over. They began preening themselves after a few minutes of this, shaking their wings out vigorously."

Day 57 added 57 miles for a grand total of 702 miles gone.

Also see Joe Duff's Field Journal Entry for today:

The Hero in Richard Pulls Them Through

In the Classroom:

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a) The cost of fuel for four ultralights per flying day is about $72.00. What is the cost per ultralight?
  • (b-for-bonus) An ultralight holds enough fuel to fly for about three hours. What would help the plane fly more miles on the same amount of fuel?

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