Airborne! Cumberland County, IL (+55.6 Miles)
November 30, 2009: Migration Day 46

Check the color on the wing edge to identify today's lead pilot.
Photo: Walt Sturgeon, Operation Migration

The crane-kids flew again after two days at Stopover #8 in Piatt County, Illinois! The eager birds burst from the pen for today's air pickup and the pilot (see photo) raced to round them up. But it was tough to climb them through the bumpy air to reach the smoother air up higher. Richard said, "The birds kept trying to follow, but were pitched about by invisible air currents." After several minutes, they were still stuggling to get on course. The young cranes skillfully tried to catch the currents off Richard's wing. "But soon they became frustrated," said Richard, "and as a group turned away from the inferior flying machine they so desperately wanted to follow." For 20 minutes the birds did crazy maneuvers in an attempt to follow and climb to the smoother air. "Then they followed loyally then for about 45 miles, still being tossed about like a slinky in the sky, until they got frustrated again. First one bird landed, then three more. It was all I could do to keep the rest from landing but those sixteen continued to follow. Brooke stayed behind to babysit the four on the ground. About five miles out another bird landed and the rest were determined to land too. Circling around and dodging trees, I tried to keep them airborne. After about three tries and flying 3 feet off the ground, I finally got them to follow to the next stop. Later, Joe arrived with the single bird. Later still, Brooke arrived with one more of the four that went down. This left three birds to travel the last few miles by road in crates. Not a banner day, but with only three birds boxed a very few miles, not a bad day either." Hats off to Richard and the birds for their valiant efforts!

CraneCam is live each day from about 6:30 to 10:00 a.m. and again from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon. TrikeCam is live durng migration flights.

In the Classroom

The ground crew has to be ready for quick action on days like today, when tracking and retrieving are needed. Read Charlie's story and answer the journal questions at the end:

Tracking and Retrieving: Help from Two-Way Radios and Marsh Music

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