Countdown to Migration: September 24, 2010

With two weeks to go, nine birds have now flown together. The rest are making progress in keeping up, but #11's wheezing is a worry. Life at "Camp. O.M." means tricks, treats, water roosting and even report cards for the cranes. A new slideshow reveals why wild chick W1-10's mom is ready to attack in this photo as migration prep continues.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week
Photo Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Why is wild chick W1-10's mom ready to attack?

Orientation & Welcome to New Participants

Latest Chick Chat: Flying Together

Good news! Two days of good flying weather meant the young colts have now launched together as a group — well, sort of. Wheezy young #11 wasn’t included because the pilots wanted to fly him alone to see how he did. Three others decided to stay back with Brooke and #11-10 on the runway. No matter: It’s still progress for blending two cohorts into one group. Click on the photos for more about this week’s flights. As departure day gets closer, more flying will build the young birds' endurance. Hope for good weather!

Meanwhile, in the central flyway a few of their wild whooper cousins from Canada have crossed the border on their way to the Texas Gulf Coast. The frist confirmed Whooping crane sighting in North Dakota came this week. "The first cranes could be about three weeks away from reaching Aransas NWR," says biologist Tom Stehn from the flock's winter home. Migration is calling, and the new Eastern Flock is getting ready.

Photo: Heather Ray
Click for story

Photo: Jamey Burr
Click for story

Journal: A Hard Decision   Print Journey South Journals

"When it comes time to fly, it is hard to know what will happen with a young chick with a slight wheeze. The team took a chance sending him to Wisconsin and we are still hoping it was the right choice," says pilot Joe Duff. Despite a number of attempts, this week chick #11-10 only flew far enough to land in the marsh next to the pen. Before this week is over, he will see doctors in Madison, WI for an exam. “By then,” continues Joe, “we should be able to evaluate his condition and know better if he will be able to join us or end up as a display bird at a zoo.”

Journal Question:
“ What do you think would be the best for crane #11-10: Should he try migrating with his class, or become a display bird at a zoo? Explain your thinking.”


Chick #11-10 arrived in Wisconsin July 11.
Photo: Heather Ray

Chicks #10 and #11 in the marsh.
Photo: Trish Gallagher

Compare Your Thoughts
Last week we asked: “What advantages could a baby bird have from its eye color being different than the adults of the species?” Compare your answer with the expert's.

Meet the Flock: Crane Quiz #4 Print the Quiz 

Are you discovering that the chicks are a lot like us? Click on each photo to find the chick's "Baby Book" and life story (bio page):

While you're on the bio pages, take this week's Crane Quiz challenge:

Answer this week's quiz question #1 and you'll see who "the Champ" is.

Slideshow/Booklet: "Life at Camp O.M." Teacher Guide

About two weeks remain until migration starts! What important lessons are the chicks learning in flight school at Wisconsin's Camp O.M.? (O.M. stands for Operation Migration and the team of experts who lead these cranes south.)

You already know the chicks get report cards for their performance and behavior. They are now old enough to be called something other than chicks. What is the other name for them? What makes them safer from predators? For answers, view this week's selection as a Web slideshow or click on the matching booklet to print, fold, and take home to share.


This week's booklet
Web slideshow version

Report Cards: Give Cranes a Grade Lesson: Report Cards for Cranes
Before most of us are back in school, these chicks are already getting report cards! Like us, they get graded on the important skills needed to face some of their big challenges in life. What kinds of grades do the cranes get? How do they get scored? What does a crane "report card" look like? Find out, and then and use the team’s recent records to grade cranes #10 and #11. You can use the information to help you with the journal question above.
Migration Mile-a-Thon: Fitness and Fun
Can you and your friends beat the cranes to their migration finish line in Florida by walking the same distance of 1285 miles? Can you go the distance before the cranes do? The Crane Class of 2010 and the folks at Operation Migration (who conduct the chicks' fall ultralight-led migration) challenge you to try! Each class or school completing the 1,285 miles will receive a Wildlife Hero Certificate, and each student participant will receive a special memento autographed by one of OM’s migration team members. Find tips to get started, and more.
Countdown to Migration: Posted Fridays Bookmark the Whooping Crane Home Page

Weekly Summaries are posted (by email) to registered participants on FRIDAYS: Sep 3, 10, 17, 24; Oct 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12, 19— or until this year's newest "ultra-chicks" reach their winter home in Florida!

Pre-migration: Each Friday before migration, a brief e-mail notice gives current newsy tidbits and announces a downloadable booklet for building background knowledge.
During migration: When migration begins October 5 is revised target date), the Friday e-mails will summarize the DAILY Highlight Updates that were posted on the Web during the week. You'll want to go to the Web for the latest maps, facts, photos, and fun!

What's the story behind this human-assisted migration?
Find out!

We'll be back with more news next Friday: October 1, 2010.
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!