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December 2, 2001
Day 47

Airborne! Only One More Flight to Go


Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Crystal River, FL

Cooler temps and a slight tailwind his morning made a great sendoff for the cranes' second-to-last flight! At 9:27, the birds landed in Levy County, FL, their staging grounds for the migration's final leg,. Today's flight was broken into two short hops to wait out some fog before finishing the distance. They flew 55.4 miles, for a total distance of 1195.4 miles. If good weather holds, tomorrow they will fly the remaining 25.1 miles to their new home at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge where they will spend the winter. If they fly tomorrow, there's plenty of excitement in store for anyone who makes it to the public fly-over event in the morning at the Crystal River Mall! It will be the public's only chance to see the young cranes; the refuge is located 65 miles north of St. Petersburg, FL and consists of marshlands, swamp lands, shallow bays, and tidal streams. The only way to get there is by boat. But at the refuge, a video monitoring system has been installed to help keep an eye on the cranes through the winter. Preparations are being made now for their final health check and for fitting satellite transformers onto the legs of Crane #1 and Crane #5 (although the health of #5 is still in question at this writing, so plans may change).

The migration is considered over once the birds reach Homosassa and their temporary pen at the Crystal River site. They'll stay overnight there, and the next morning the pilots fly them 5-6 miles out and drop them at Chassahowitzka. Dan will already be there, waiting on the ground by the pen with the top net removed. Then the ultralight comes in high from above and makes a steep descent with the birds following. Halfway down, Joe turns off his vocalizer playing the "follow me" call and Dan turns his on, calling the young cranes down--and HOME.

Try This! Journaling Question

  • With the distances quoted in today's report, what will be the total miles traveled in this migration? What is the difference between actual and the estimated 1250 miles? Why the difference?

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

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