Saturday, December 13, 2014

Whooping Cranes Follow Ultralight Into Georgia

Whooping Cranes Follow Ultralight Aircraft

USFWS Press Release : Seven whooping cranes following pilots in two ultralight aircraft lifted off from Pike County, Alabama on December 9 and flew 117-miles before landing in Decatur County, Georgia.

It sounds very simple, but in reality is amazingly difficult.  Why?  Well it seems cranes just have minds of their own.  And if it’s cold, or the wind isn't right, they don’t just automatically follow these brave pilots dressed up like whooping cranes flying ultralight aircraft.  It’s like trying to herd cats.

“This was a particularly wild morning,” said Heather Ray, outreach specialist. “It was kind of exciting for a while there with both ultralights circling the field for the cranes to follow. But it all worked out thanks to good planning by our pilots and thankfully cooperative whooping cranes.”

The cranes are part of a 14-year effort to reestablish an eastern migratory whooping population to safeguard the species survival. The cranes and planes and entourage have been in the air or on the road for 61 days since departing from the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area on October 10. 2014.

When they reach St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Florida, these seven cranes will be joining 97 whooping cranes in the eastern population with 54 males and 43 females. The Eastern Flock's estimated distribution as of December 4, 2014, included 40 whooping cranes in Indiana, 10 in Illinois, 8 in Kentucky, 6 in Tennessee, 11 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia and 6 in Florida. There are always some whooping cranes unaccounted for at times when they fly from place to place, like when two whooping cranes unexpectedly visited the ACE Basin in 2013. For more info click on International Crane Foundation.

This is the 14th group of birds to take part in a project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP), an international coalition of public and private groups that is reintroducing this highly imperiled species in eastern North America, part of its historic range.

To report whooping crane sightings, visit the whooping crane observation webpage.
Whooping Cranes and Ultralight / Photos courtesy USFWS
To view past blog entries about Endangered Species click on Red Cockaded Woodpecker - Red Knot

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.