Journey North News: Winter & Spring 2009

Posted Fridays: Feb. 13, 27, Mar. 6, 20, 27, Apr. 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8

FINAL: May 8, 2009
The first chicks for the Class of 2009 have been born! See what's ahead for the fast-growing fluff-balls in our video clip and slide shows. The last nest at the Wisconsin nesting grounds has failed, but there's hope of chicks from the rescued eggs. How close to the 2020 goal are the Eastern flock numbers? Meet a brave crane pair heading for Canada through an unexpected photo story, and share in the celebration of an award for Operation Migration. The journey north winds down and the miraculous cycle of life continues. Thanks for joining us this season!
May 1, 2009
Last week we had 10 nests; this week there's ONE. What happened? A new "crane cam" from Operation Migration may help experts find out. How did the young Class of 2008 know when they had reached home? The first cranes have reached the nesting grounds in Canada! Learn why Tom Stehn is disappointed that the 11 left in Texas include Scarbaby and mate. Alabama Public Television gives us all a terrific look at the Whooping crane reintroduction. Next week: baby chicks?
April 24, 2009
In the midst of migration, we pause to celebrate our esteemed contributor Tom Stehn, recipient of the USFWS 2008 Recovery Champion Award. You'll want to read the USFWS tribute. Another happy topic is the spectacular dancing done by whoopers in spring. See our video, study the steps, and try it yourself. Tom Stehn explains why it's impossible for the whooping crane population to grow any way but SLOW. He also sends the good news that most of the Western Flock has left Texas on its journey north! And the entire Class of 2008 is in WI!

April 17, 2009
Whoopee! The first ultralight-led whooping cranes from the Class of 2008 are safely back in Wisconsin, and the first cranes of the natural flock reached North Dakota and Canada. Experts are trying to discover why pairs in the new flock have had limited breeding success. What are pros and cons of those efforts? A wildlife biologist shares how even he misidentified a whooper in migration, and Tom Stehn helps us analyze why whoopers usually migrate in small groups of one to five.

April 10, 2009
The entire Class of 2008 is homeward bound. Eight nests with adult pairs incubating have already been found in Wisconsin. Calculate hatch dates to circle on your calendar! About half the Western flock is in the Central Flyway, headed for better conditions in Canada. In a week with some sad news of losses, see the happy story of Al and Diane, a remarkably productive (old!) crane pair headed for Canada with their twins. How far, how fast, how high do migrating whoopers fly? Explore with our lesson as this exciting migration unfolds.
April 3, 2009
Rising up and catching their first thermal, all 7 juveniles left St. Marks NWR together on March 30. Bev's audio clip describes their departure. Four of the Chass 7 may be back in Wisconsin when you read this, but the other 3 are still wintering in Florida. An "early bird" family group has begun migration from Texas; see a wonderful video clip at their March 28 migration stopover. Calculate and compare time spent on the wintering grounds by the Eastern flock. Make a prediction from a photo story about crane romance, and count the Wisconsin arrivals.
March 27, 2009
Four of the "Chass 7" began migration this week—and four of the 2008 DAR cranes (still in the company of #216) completed migration! Close to 30 of the new flock's older cranes are estimated already back in Wisconsin. Migration is not yet underway for the natural flock in Texas, but that should soon change. Discover why very few of the natural flock wear leg bands, and ponder what biologists hope to learn by tracking banded members of the new flock. Our photo of a crane and snake challenges you to decide: which is predator, which is prey?
Photo Eva Szyszkoski
March 20, 2009
Migration is underway for older birds in the Eastern flock and the first 12 arrivals are already in Wisconsin! The Class of 2008 remains content on the Florida wintering grounds. Sara's photos show some of the youngest members' mischief at Chass. Bev describes waiting and watching at St. Marks. In drought-stricken Texas, feeding stations are helping the natural flock, now at 249, fatten for the upcoming migration. In the worst winter in a long time, Tom Stehn lists the pros and cons of feeding wild Whooping cranes. What do you think?
Photo Sara Zimorski
March 6, 2009
Eating blue crabs is a big part of preparing for migration. How do cranes eat these things? Our photo study takes a look. Find out about an important discovery at Aransas NWR this week, and read Bev's entertaining bedtime story about the juveniles at St. Marks NWR. View a special map that shows something about habitat conditions on the wintering grounds as you ponder how crane numbers and nesting success this summer might be affected. It's March, and migration is just around the corner! Photo Sara Zimorski
February 27, 2009
The young cranes are changing, as our new photos show. What's new? They're up plenty of mischief as they enter their "teenage" times. Even the Swamp Monster has a story to tell about the juveniles! Tom Stehn's stories prove what an important (and risky) time it is when young cranes separate from their parents. Stories of some early separations at Aransas prove the point. Why is it best for chicks to stay with Mom and Dad throughout migration? Meet Scarbaby, a crane to watch.
Photo Sara Zimorski
February 13, 2009
The tallest bird in North America has something special to "whoop" about: safe arrival of the Class of 2008 in Florida last month, and more wild migratory arrivals in Texas than last year. Tour the wintering grounds of both flocks with our slide shows to see what's new. Find out what a water guzzler is and evaluate habitat at Aransas NWR. Why are the Eastern cranes banded? There's plenty to discover before the 2009 journey north begins! Photo Sara Zimorski

Welcome and Orientation
What endangered species stands nearly five feet tall with wingspans wider than most cars? Whooping Cranes! Our reports begin on February 13, when these magnificent birds are on their wintering grounds.
Regular WHOOPING CRANE SPRING MIGRATION UPDATES will be posted here on Fridays. (See schedule above.) Download your official journals, make your map of Whooping Crane habitats, and get ready for the journey north adventure! Photo Operation Migration





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