Ultra-light-guided whooping cranes released in Florida
by Pam Rotella
12 December 2012, last updated 13 December
Operation Migration is reporting that its ultra-light-guided whooping cranes have been released at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
The five cranes arrived at St. Marks on Friday, November 23rd, where they were penned during preparations for their release into the wild. Permanent leg bands and final health checks were completed two weeks later.
Six captive-bred whooping cranes, raised and trained to follow an ultra-light aircraft by crane-costumed human handlers, departed White River Marsh, Wisconsin in September. Operation Migration's ultra-light pilots teach the endangered birds a winter migration route from Wisconsin to Florida.
The migration was frequently delayed for days at various stopover locations due to wind and weather conditions.
Operation Migration's web site provided a list of flyover locations for crane-watchers to view most departures, and a few locations where people could view arrivals. The site also offered readers the chance to join an e-mail list that received "Early Bird" updates on flying conditions each morning -- a way of communicating whether traveling to a flyover location in the early morning hours would be worth the effort.
People who lined the road at the LaSalle County flyover location on October 26th saw all six cranes depart for the last time, as one crane
would tragically die later that evening during surgery on her broken leg. The remaining five continued the migration to Florida, and were released on Tuesday, December 11, according to Operation Migration's In the Field blog.
All original content including photographs © 2012 by Pam Rotella.