Thumbs Down And Stopping Out (+0 Miles)
December 17, 2010: Migration Day 69

Photo Operation Migration

Fall migration is almost complete for the last five crane-kids in the Class of 2010. Get set for the Arrival Flyover at the Dunnellon-Marion County Airport any day now! The only thing holding up the show is for trackers to send word from Chassahowitzka NWR that older Whooping cranes have cleared out, leaving the release pen free for crane-kids #3, #9, #15, #16, and #17. When that happens, Operation Migration pilots are ready to lead the chicks, first to Halpata and finally to the release pen on Chassahowitzka NWR. The Chass Five are still waiting at the Gilchrist County stopover. You recall that the St. Marks Five completed their migration on Dec. 17 but the Chass Five had to wait for better weather and for the older whoopers to clear out of the release pen, where they remembered getting free food. Trackers say those older cranes are down to two, which mean Operation Migration's trikes and the last five birds, the "Chass Five," will be back in the air any day.

Watching over the St. Marks Five, Brooke reports that the six older cranes visiting their old pen site have not really posed a threat to the juveniles. "My bigger concern is that they might lead them off somewhere," said Brooke. Brooke and his helpers have hazed the adults off so many times that the chicks "seem to have picked up on the action and have begun to run the adults off themselves." Way to go!

In the Classroom: Journal or Discussion

(a) Last year when pilot Brooke delivered half the 2009 birds to St. Marks, he wrote this: "As we made our descent through the trashy air above the marsh, the birds' flight behavior began to change; each bird staring down in awe and anticipation at all that water and marsh, and a special excitement rippled through them. . . .Soon into their vision appeared the pen and the two white costumed figures, their arms flapping up and down and the loud haler coaxing for a landing. Then, with a low pass over the pen, 910 landed, followed shortly by the others as I climbed in tight spirals above." Tell about a time when you felt a similar way when you came to an exciting new experience or place.

(b-for-bonus) Yesterday's bonus question asked how you explain that this will be the second time in 2010 for an arrival flyover in Marion County. If you had trouble answering, click here to solve the mystery. How does the number of days it took the Class of 2009 to reach their arrival celebration day compare to this year's progress?

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