Week 14: Crossing Alabama (Total Gone: 803 Miles)
January 4, 2016
Weekly Updates

Class of 2015 on migration flight with aircraft, January 2016
Operation Migration

Today, winds aloft are far too strong to permit a flight to Lowndes County, Alabama, but yesterday the team zoomed ahead 96 miles, covering two stops in one flight! When they were finally rewarded with cooperating winds and cranes (after several turnbacks), they were able to gain altitude and a smooth tailwind and pilot Joe Duff decided to skip the stop and continue another hour to Chilton County, Alabama. By this time they were too far along for pilot Brooke to carry out the plan to head back to the pen to pick up the trouble-making "aircraft challenger" #2-15, so she made the trip in a crate. After an attempted flight Jan. 3 ended in a 45-minute rodeo and no progress, Joe wrote today: "It feels good to finally move and know the birds are still willing to follow, even of it takes a little encouragement, patience, sweat, endurance, luck, experience and sheer stubbornness." They had been at the Winston County, AL stop since Dec. 15. Now, five more stopovers remain to the finish line.

January finishes are late, but not unheard of. In the most unusual finish in these aircraft-led migrations, the Class of 2011 cranes refused to leave Alabama (see story here). Last winter 36 Whooping cranes were spotted in Alabama before the birds began spring migration in March and April. Until next Monday, stay in touch with daily updates and video cams at Operation Migration. Go, Cranes!

map and journal
map | stopovers

Journey North is presented by Annenberg Learner.
Partial funding for this news update has been made possible through Operation Migration by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Southern Company through the Power of Flight Program.