Mon, Oct 06, 2003
Awe-Inspiring Flight Of Man And Crane
So many of us who fly know there are few joys that compare to
soaring with the eagles. But what about carousing with cranes?
Prehistoric whooping cranes numbered just 15 in 1941. Since
then, environmentalist efforts to save the endangered birds have
increased that number to 425 or so in Necedah (WI) alone. "We're
just getting started," said Tom Stehn, a co-chairman of the
International Whooping Crane Recovery Team. He was quoted in the
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "The proof will be when they really
start breeding and reproducing on their own. But this has been a
The problem is to get them to act like whooping cranes. To do
that, they have to migrate. Right now, there's just one flock of
migratory whooping cranes. So, using an ultralight,
preservationists hope they can teach 125 of the birds to fly south
for the winter.
In the fall of 2001, eight whoopers flew south from the refuge
in Juneau County to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge,
along Florida's western coast. Seven of the birds survived the
1,218-mile trip, arriving in Florida 48 days after they left
Necedah. The following spring, five of them returned to Wisconsin
without any help at all.
"They know where they're going, exactly," said Richard Urbanek,
a wildlife biologist who followed the migrating birds in a truck,
tracking signals from radio transmitters attached to their
Last year, 16 cranes followed the ultralight on the migration to
Florida. All of them returned to Wisconsin or neighboring states,
including six that spent the summer on the Necedah refuge.
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