Welcome! Here's How to Participate
Countdown to Migration Begins September 2, 2011

Tip: Bookmark the Whooping Crane Home Page

Clip: Watch Slow-Motion Crane Training Flight
Watch It Now
Year 11: Journey South with Endangered Whooping Cranes Led by Ultralights

Welcome! Year 11 in the historic conservation effort to reintroduce Whooping Cranes to eastern North America is nearing takeoff! On July 28 a private plane carrying the Class of 2011 chicks landed at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Then a slow-moving van drove them to Wisconsin's White River Marsh State Wildlife Area. They stepped out of their travel crates at their new flight school, migration departure site, and future nesting grounds. In just weeks they must be ready for their first migration. They'll depart in early October behind ultralight airplane "parents" that will show them the way on their first southward migration to a winter home in Florida.

An additional cohort of Whooping crane chicks are being costume-reared for a different flight plan. Hatched for year seven in the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) program, these crane-kids will be released in the company of older cranes from whom they will learn the migration route.

This fall also brings one wild-hatched chick that will follow Mom and Dad on its first journey south.

We wonder: Will all the chicks make the journey safely? How long will this year's ultralight-led migration take? What highlights and lowlights await as they migrate through seven states and fly over 1,000 miles?

We're glad you're here for Journey South—and the newest chapter in this conservation story about an endangered species. It's easy to participate by following the instructions below:

Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration
Photo David Sakrison
Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration
Where Are They Now?
Meet the Cranes and See
Egg-to-Sky Timeline

Because this year's story really began during the summer, now's the time to meet the new "ultra-chicks" and catch up on their progress. We've kept track of the "Class of 2011" since they hatched in spring. Read about their personalities and you'll see why many students enjoy "adopting" a crane to follow throughout fall's journey south — and again on spring's return journey north.

Our timeline of key events will help you follow the flock's milestones so far. Use the information to start a school or classroom timeline now; add to your timeline when the daily migration Updates start upon departure in October.

See the chicks LIVE on the Operation Migration CraneCam!

TEACHERS: You may wish to block your computer's pop-up ads before clicking to Crane Cam.

BEFORE Migration
Build Background with Slideshows/Downloadable Booklets

Do you wonder what makes a chick think a tiny airplane is its mom? Why are they following a 350-pound airplane and not their own parents? What are those billowy white gowns about? Why is pecking order a big deal when raising these chicks? Our just-for-kids nonfiction booklets offer facts while building reading skills and supporting standards. Between now and the migration departure in October, a series of weekly downloadable nonfiction booklets (in a recommended chronological order) will cover the main events of the young cranes' development and training. Companion Teacher Guides help make the most of each booklet and list coordinating lessons on the Web. All booklets are also available on the Web in slideshow format.

DURING Migration: How to Track Migration in the Classroom

Follow Daily Migration Updates
Come fly with the whoopers! See our daily Web postings with the latest news, maps, and photos starting on Day One of the migration. (Depature date announced later.)

Map the Migration
This link tells you how to purchase a map or make your own so you can track the migration from Wisconsin all the way to Florida using information in our daily Web reports. We also suggest fun ways to handle students' real-life questions as they follow the map and daily narratives during migration.

Keep Migration Journals
Print our ready-to-go templates so students can build migration journals with a variety of pages. The journey south will be rich with concrete examples of key science concepts and organizing themes that can provide focus for student journals: habitat, weather, flight, navigation, adaptations, costume-rearing protocol, endangered species, and more.

Predict and Compare
Keep records on a chart in our collection of journal pages as the migration unfolds. This link gives instant comparisons to all the previous ultralight-led migrations; we'll complete and link to this year's chart at the end of the 2011 migration so students can see how their own charting compares.

Photo David Sakrison
Fall Lessons and Activities

How do cranes fly? Why do planes have to lead the birds? What's it like to fly an ultralight? Who's on the team to conduct the migration? Why are Whooping cranes endangered? How many cranes are alive today? How many chicks will survive their first migration and make it back to Wisconsin in the spring? We'll help you discover answers (and more questions!) as the exciting migration unfolds. To learn more about this historic study, see:

E-mail News Summaries on Fridays

Pre-migration: Each Friday, a brief e-mail notice gives current newsy tidbits and the next title in our series of six downloadable booklets for building pre-migration background.

During migration: When migration begins, the Friday e-mails will summarize that week's Highlight Updates, which post DAILY (complete with latest maps, facts, photos, and fun) on the Web.

E-mail Summaries are posted to registered participants on FRIDAYS:
Sep. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11, 18. . .or until this year's newest eastern Whooping crane chicks reach their winter homes in Florida!

Thank you for joining us in this exciting migration. Now the fun begins!