2010 Migration Complete! (+26 Miles)
January 15, 2011: Migration Day 73*

Richard van Heuvelen was today's lead pilot ending the Journey South.
Hear Richard, Brooke, and Joe interviewed by Mark Chenoweth: Arrival Podcast

Photo Frances Brown

Whoopee! The Chass Five, the last of the Class of 2010, flew the final 26 air miles of their 1,285-mile migration! They are safely home on their new wintering grounds at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Their farewell flight with the ultralight planes ended at 8:56 a.m. The release pen is in a marshy area five miles out from the coastline, in a private and remote area accessible only by airboat.

Costumed handlers were on the ground to call the birds down. They already wear their new leg bands, attached while they spent all those days at Gilchrist County. Now a new life as wild, free cranes begins. They'll have supervision from two experts and the safety of a huge pen with food and water, but they can freely come and go. Come spring, they will fly their first unaided migration north to Wisconsin. When these crane-kids are about five years old, they could become parents of their own chicks in the summer nesting season.

The wonderful Class of 2010 is the tenth group to be guided by ultralight aircraft from central Wisconsin to Florida for the winter. Several Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chicks also made their first southward migration. High fives and hearty congratulations to the Operation Migration Team for an outstanding migration, and to the entire Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership for a conservation story to celebrate. Congratulations to YOU, too, for hanging in there with the cranes and planes on this outstanding adventure! We'll see you back on the Web for Journey North reports starting Feb. 11. Over and out!

*After the stop-out that began Dec. 17, the team resumed numbering the days on January 12.

For Craniacs Everywhere:

What is your favorite crane's banding code? See the Class of 2010's bio pages or their quick-view code chart. For older Whooping cranes in the new Eastern flock, see links to all bio pages here. Journey North's bio pages follow your favorite crane from hatching throughout its entire life. Check back often for updates on "your" crane!

Hear pilots Richard, Brooke, and Joe interviewed by Mark Chenoweth: Arrival Podcast

Journal Question: Biologists do not think the long, drawn-out migration and late arrival will affect the birds' spring migration. What do you think? Will they know when to leave? Will they find their way back home to the summer nesting grounds in Wisconsin? How long will it take them? Make your predictions in your journal. Then join us for reports of the young cranes' first journey north — all by themselves!

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