Another Detour Flown (+5 Miles)
January 24, 2012: Migration Day 86*

Six young Whooping cranes follow their ultralight aircraft leader on their first southward migration.

Image: Operation Migration

Migration progress, but just a little. The cranes thrilled us by taking off and following the pilots. Hopes rose, but a long and frustrating rodeo dashed them. In the end, five birds gained 5 miles toward the next planned stopover—but it ended when they quit and landed in Alabama's Winston County. Meanwhile, the other four birds flew, turned back, flew again, turned back again—until finally the pilots were able to lead them back to the very pen site they left this morning. What to do? You guessed it: The team crated and trucked those four from Franklin County to join the others at this migration's second unplanned stop in Alabama. All are safe, with a total of 746 miles behind them. They can do it! They just need to get back on the plan — with the right weather.

* The team at Operation Migration marked the end of the stand-down period of the 2011-2012 migration and re-started the "migration clock" on January 13, with Migration Day 75.

In the Classroom: Journal or Discussion

  • What do you think it will take for the birds to get back to their take-off-and-follow" routine? Why do you think they are being so uncooperative?
  • (bonus): Like the pilots, have you ever had to try two or three times to do something difficult? Were you finally successful? What did you learn from that?


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