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THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 14
Patuxent Crane Videos -- No new video this month, but you can still access all our recent videos through the links at the bottom of the page.

Whoopers Leaving Pen to Follow Ultra-Light
The whoopers can't wait to leave their pen in the morning and chase after the plane. The pilot broadcasts a recording of a parent crane's brood call to encourage the chicks to follow. There are many excellent photos of the migration available on the Operation Migration
Photo Journal web page.

Photo by Operation Migration

 

The whoopers in flight behind the ultra-light. Previous studies with geese, swans, and sandhill cranes have shown that the birds only need to be shown the route one way. They can then find their own way back in the spring.


The whoopers in flight behind the ultra-light. Previous studies with geese, swans, and sandhill cranes have shown that the birds only need to be shown the route one way. They can then find their own way back in the spring.

Photo © by Operation Migration

Dan and Damien--Crew Members
Dan (left) and Damien pull off their hoods and take a break from caring for the whoopers on the ground. Both are techs from Patuxent who are now supporting the migration. Dan, who gave the chicks their earliest ultra-light training at Patuxent, has been traveling with the WCEP crew since July. Damien joined more recently, in early November. Both are part of the extensive ground crew needed to set up and remove temporary pens, pursue birds who veer off course (with radio signals), help with airplane maintenance, and, of course, feed and care for the birds. Everyone involved in the migration work endures long months separated from their families.

Photo © by Operation Migration


Flock of Whoopers Grace Skies in Florida
A flock of whoopers grace the skies in Florida. These birds live in central Florida and will not interact with the birds who are being taught the migratory route. There are more birds in this flock than existed in the wild flock back in the 1940's!

Photo by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Project Updates:

The Whoopers Fly All the Way Home!

On December 3, 2001, 7 endangered whooping cranes produced at Patuxent arrived at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River, Florida. The birds, approximately 7 months old, had faithfully followed the Operation Migration's ultra-light aircraft as it led them on a new migratory route from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Central Wisconsin. Starting on October 17th, the trip had taken 48 days, and covered over 1100 miles. The birds had flown south from Wisconsin through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and halfway through Florida. To get to Florida, the birds and their human leaders had to take 25 separate flights. The longest trip lasted 2 hours, 9 minutes; the shortest took only 38 minutes. You might say the whoopers were doing their best to promote travel in the US! The birds and human crew had to spend 23 days land-bound because of bad weather or poor flying conditions. They also endured a serious storm which damaged the pen they were held in overnight. Because of the storm, one of the birds escaped the pen and died when it collided with a power line. Despite this and other setbacks, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership crew continued on until they'd successfully achieved their goal. This is just the first of many future ultra-light led whooper migrations. The ultimate goal is to establish a new migratory whooper flock that will breed in Necedah and spend the winter in Chassahowitzka. This migratory flock will be completely separate from the original wild migratory flock that travels from northern Canada to southern Texas.

Read daily accounts of the journey at the Operation Migration website.

To find information especially set up for teachers and students, go here.

An excellent map of the entire migratory path can be found here.

The Non-Migratory Florida Whoopers Fill the Skies!

The non-migratory whoopers, who live in Florida year round, are doing well. We will continue to release whoopers into this non-migratory flock, even as we support the new migratory release. Drought conditions in Florida are easing somewhat, though more rain is needed. There is good evidence to believe that when rain fall becomes normal in Florida, and water levels rise, that the whoopers residing there year round will take advantage of the improved conditions and breed successfully. Even during the worst of the drought conditions, whoopers tried to nest, and some even laid eggs. But without good water conditions, nesting success is unlikely.

This flock taking to the air in Florida are some of the non-migratory birds released over the last few years. It's breathtaking to see that many whoopers flying free and living wild. This one group holds more birds than existed in the original wild flock in Wood Buffalo, Canada, in the early 1940's.

Releasing birds year after year seems to be slow progress, until you suddenly see a gathering of birds like this reaching for the skies.

Please check our site on January 31, for a web page update!


Whooping Crane Videos:

See Report 12 for more info on dancing cranes:
Dancing Cranes
  (160x120)
Dancing Cranes
  (320x240)

See Report 11 for more info on smelt-feeding:
Feeding Smelt to Cranes
(160x120)
Feeding Smelt to Cranes
 (320x240)

See Report 10 for more info on pre-flight training:
Whooper Chick Pre-Flight Training Video (160x120)
Whooper Chick Pre-Flight Training Video
(320x240)

See Report 9 for more info on exercising chicks:
Whooper Chick ExerciseVideo (160x120)
Whooper Chick ExerciseVideo
(320x240)

See Report 8 for more info on chicks feeding:
Whooper Chick Feeding Video (160x120)
Whooper Chick Feeding Video (320x240) 

Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program.   Please check our site on January 31 for a web page update!

Whooping Crane Reports

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14

         

Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).

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General Info on Cranes Why are Cranes Endangered? Frequently Asked Questions Photo Gallery Cool Facts Related Links Whoopers Home
Other Patuxent Crane Information

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA
URL http://whoopers.usgs.gov
Contact: Jonathan Male
Last modified: 10/23/2002
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