Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Whooping cranes head to Florida for 8th year

It's whooping crane time again. The experimental migratory flock of cranes are following an ultralight from Wisconsin to Florida for the eighth year. The cranes are raised from chicks to learn to follow the ultralight, then when fall arrives, they fly from their home in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to Florida's central-western coast. (They usually end up at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge one way or another.) Previous years' cranes now number 68, according to the article linked above, and those cranes will make their way south on their own.

The idea is to establish a flock of migratory whooping cranes in the eastern U.S. A flock already exists toward the west and winters in Texas. There is also an experimental non-migratory flock of whooping cranes that stays in Florida.

You can follow the cranes' migration on a map at the Operation Migration Web site.

I started following this story when the researchers first tried to get sandhill cranes to follow an ultralight, which was the year before they proceeded with the endangered whooping cranes. So ... holy cow, does that mean the EcoFlorida site is almost 10 years old?! Yes. I started it in 1999. Whoa....

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