A Holiday "Time Out" Begins (+ 0 Miles)
December 17, 2008: Migration Day 62

The weather calls the shots, and the team has called "time out" until December 30. Today brought unfavorable winds and so much rain that water is standing everywhere. Woefully, the forecast for the next week shows 3 back-to-back low pressure systems heading this way. So, for the second time in eight seasons, the team decided to break the migration and go home to families for the holidays. Brian Clauss (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) and Bev will stay and take good care of the birds. Operation Migration's Liz and Heather will also remain. They will work on plans for the completion of the migration. The rest of the team is homeward bound for Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida, and Ontario. Everyone will be back to continue the migration by flying (weather permitting) on December 30. For the second year, the fall migration will carry over into a new calendar year. The team will face a big job when they come back, but they'll be ready and so will we.

Looking Ahead
Six stopover locations remain between Franklin County, AL and the staging area in Jefferson County, FL. At the staging area (gathering area) the team will split the Class of 2008 into two groups of seven birds each for the first time in the project's history. They will lead seven to their new wintering grounds on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (more facts and photos soon).

After those 7 birds land at St. Marks, the team will return to the Jefferson County staging area. They will depart on the next flyable day with the other 7 crane-kids. This group stops in Florida's Madison and Gilchrist Counties before reaching Marion County and the Arrival Flyover event at the Dunnellon Airport. That just leaves the final leg of the migration to land them at Chassahowitzka NWR in Citrus County. The suspense continues in this history-making year of the reintroduction of Whooping cranes to Eastern North America. Come back December 30!

In the Classroom:

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a) In splitting the birds into two groups for two wintering areas, the team is doing something they've never done before. With 74 adults in the flock now, they believe it will be safer for the crane-kids to have more space and privacy from the territorial older birds, who often return to the winter pen site for free food or to pick on the youngsters. Write about a time when you did something for the first time. How did you feel about the results?
  • (b-for-bonus) In years 2001-2007 the team completed the second half of the migration in as few as 11 days and as many as 42, but this year takes them on a new route. Based on the information above, what's your prediction? Join us again on December 30 to follow the Class of 2008 to the finish!
  • More Cranes to Watch: Three White Cranes is a project in which two banded Siberian Cranes have been tracked by classrooms in the US and China to their recent arrival on their wintering area in southeastern China. ICF's Sara Gavin reports: "We were very excited to track the entire fall migration – over 3,000 miles! – of these two young cranes." Check out their project web site as a useful resource for learning more about cranes, other students and schools involved in this US/East Asia project, and crane flyways in the United States and East Asia.

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