Sunday's for the Birds: Whooping Crane Class of 2011 Update

Although all the chicks and crew are safe in Franklin County, Alabama, they have been grounded since December 11. The problem this time is not the weather, but FAA issues concerning flight regulations in regards to the ultralight pilots. In other words, governmental red tape has tethered the program until further notice. It was hoped this issue would be cleared up during the holidays, but still no word. The latest report came from OM director David Sakrison on January 5.
You can post your supportive comments on the OM guest page. They will be collected and forward to the FAA.

In the meantime, there's good news coming from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. OM's crew chief Walter Sturgeon reported that twelve pairs of whooping cranes are nesting and beginning the incubation process on the refuge. One pair, #9-03 and #3-04 are nesting for the fifth time. Looks like # 9-03, the rebel female, has settled down. She was the little crane who wandered offtrack on her first migration home to Wisconsin in the spring of 2004. After flying all over Eastern North American for three years, she was captured and returned to Wisconsin where she hooked up with a mate. Since then, they've had a few failed nesting attempts, but in 2010 they migrated south with a youngster in tow. As of today, they have contributed three little whoopers to the Eastern Flock! To read Sturgeon's complete history of #9-03, go to "In the Field" January 5.

Keep your fingers cross that at least by this time next week, the whoopers will be doing what they are meant to do—migrate!