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October 12, 2004
Migration Day 3


Clip: Watch Slow Motion Crane Flight
Watch It Now


Grounded by Fog in Sauk County, WI
Our 14 young whoopers are going nowhere today. Early morning fog made visibility too poor to travel. Are you wondering why they don't just go later, after the fog burns off?

There's a reason why the planes and cranes fly at day break. The air is calm and still. That's why training lights and migration flights take place soon after sunrise. They must fly before the sun heats up the earth and air. The heating creates conditions that cause winds—and winds mean danger for the ultralights and cranes flying so close together. If the ultralight bounces around, it could easily strike the closest birds. The lead bird is often only six inches away from the plane's wingtip!

Take a look. The video (at right) gives you an up-close look at flying cranes in slow motion. The clip starts with 3 cranes and the ultralight, very close. Later you'll see more birds. You'll get a good look at the primary feathers and the birds' flight posture as they flap and soar. Notice the slow downward stroke of the wingbeat, followed by a quick upward motion. Don't you wish you were in the air with them?

How do birds manage to fly? How are their bodies adapted for flying? How do their wings work? What two flying techniques keep them in the air? How is a crane's flight different from other birds? You'l find all those answers and more in our flight lesson:

• How Birds Fly—a Journey North In-Depth Lesson

Map the Migration
Make your own map using the latest migration data

Try This! Journaling Question
  • Make a hatch mark for the first "no-fly" day on your migration chart. Have you ever been all set to go someplace, but something happens to change the plans? What did you do instead? What do you think the team does on no-fly days? What do the young cranes do?
  • The colts of the Eastern flock didn't migrate today, but their wild cousins DID! We got this news today from crane biologist Tom Stehn at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas: "The first 2 whooping cranes of the fall were sighted this morning. . . . The cranes presumably took advantage of the north winds that the Texas coast has had for the last 4 days to complete their migration. My first census flight is scheduled for October 20th." Where are these birds (the Western flock) migrating from? Name the two flocks of migrating whooping cranes and describe their routes on a map of North America.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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