From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Whooping Crane Migration

Helping endangered cranes survive


Carolyn Hall, of Bassett, NE, sent a link for Operation Migration, a group that is helping to establish a new flock of migratory whooping cranes. This flock will winter in east Florida and summer in central Michigan.

Eggs are collected in the wild and hatched in incubators. Even before the eggs are hatched, the baby birds are imprinted with the sound of ultralight aircraft, the "birds" that will eventually lead them as they migrate. The imprinting with ultralights continues as the baby birds are born, grow, and learn to fly.

This year's "crop" of whooping crane chicks is now migrating from Michigan to Florida, and the ultralights are teaching them the safest route. You can read a daily log of their progress in the Field Journal. Start at the bottom of the page to read the entries in chronological order.

Today's entry includes a video of the young whooping cranes taking some exercise after a couple of days on the ground due to weather conditions. With a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet and long legs stretched behind them, they are beautiful in flight -- and a joy to see, because they are rare and precious.

According to Operation Migration's Crane Count, the total population of all whooping cranes (wild and captive) was 539 on July 14, 2008.

Related: Whooping Cranes Threatened by Wind Farms

2 comments:

Collagemama said...

I'm enjoying the migration of monarch butterflies through the Dallas area. What a joy it would be to see migrating whooping cranes!

Genevieve said...

I love seeing all the big birds in flight, including the vultures which are the biggest bird we see commonly here. Occasionally, I see long-necked birds in flight with long legs trailing behind them, but never as a flock. I think they are probably great blue herons. Like you, I'd be absolutely thrilled to see whooping cranes.

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