Whooping Crane Countdown to Journey South 2011
Countdown to Migration: September 30, 2011

Crane #1 is flying again! The birds are now wearing new transmitters for radio tracking as preparations continue for their first journey south. Craniac Quiz #5 and our slideshow help YOU prepare for migration too.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week
Operation Migration CraneCam
Playing Gotcha. Why?

Chick Chat: Almost Ready!

Pilot Brooke says the birds are singing the "Every day, in every way, we're getting better and better" song. All ten birds took off with the trike on Sep. 28, and Crane #1 is flying, even if only briefly. It was a busy week for the class of 2011 and the team!

  • The 8 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) colts were moved to their release site at Horicon NWR, where they will be supervised until their release in October with older cranes to follow south.
  • The ultralight-led colts got their snap-on radio transmitter bands yesterday when it was too windy to fly. The young birds aren't crazy about their new jewelry, but they'll soon get used to the bands and antennas. Each bird's band has his or her individualized color, number and frequency.The bands send vhf radio signals that allow tracking in case a bird becomes separated for any reason. The team can pull out the tracking receiver and antenna and use adio telemetry techniques to relocate the bird.


What is this crane doing?

Images: Brooke Pennypacker

Journal: Those New Leg Bands  Journey South Journal

The birds may be grumpy to the "costumes" for a few days after being grabbed and banded. Not to worry: They got plenty of treats after banding, and they'll soon get over it and trust the costumes again. Do you wonder how the transmitters work, or why the cranes must wear them on leg bands? Learn how radio tracking works from tracker Lara. Then answer this week's questions:

Journal Questions:

How does radio tracking work? Why is it important for the young cranes to be trackable before they leave on migration?

Meet the Team: Craniac Quiz #5 Print the Quiz 

How many kids can say their dad flies with Whooping cranes? Who is making his 8th migration as an unpaid super-volunteer? You'll find out when you meet the dedicated team that will lead the chicks on their first journey south.

While you're on the team pages, search for answers to this week's quiz:

Slideshow: "Countdown to Migration"

October 8 is the target date for the chicks' departure on the biggest adventure of their lives: their first migration south. The cranes just show up and fly, but the team has a lot to do! What’s on their job list right now? For the birds-in-training, why is finding the "sweet spot" an important discovery?

Find answers in “Countdown to Migration,” this week's nonfiction selection. View it as a Web slideshow or click on the booklet to print, fold, and take home to share.

Teaching Suggestions

Teachers: Discover Classrooms in Action
Third-grade teacher Claire Timm lives just 30 miles from St. Marks NWR in Florida, where five of the Class of 2011 will land at the end of their migration. No wonder she and her students are excited about migration! Claire shares ideas and activities, and there's more to come. Click Classrooms in Action!
Countdown to Migration: Friday Updates Bookmark the Whooping Crane Home Page

Target departure date: October 8 from White River Marsh SWA near Berlin, Wisconsin

Pre-migration: Each Friday before migration, a brief e-mail notice provides the weekly summary, quiz questions, and the next slideshow to prepare you for migration.

During migration: When migration begins in October, new reports, maps, and fun facts are posted DAILY on the web. The Friday e-mails are quick summaries of the reports from that week. Stay with us for year 11 of this exciting conservation story!

Orientation & Welcome to New Participants

Watch morning flight school, or watch the crane-kids forage and poke in the mud or splash and flap in their pond. From training camp at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, Operation Migration's CraneCam lets us see it all!

We'll be back with more news next Friday: October 7, 2011.
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!