My photo taken in Feb. 2010: two captive whoopers in Homosassa Springs, FL
Every morning I log-on to Operation Migration’s website to find out if the
Class of 2011 has begun their first migration back to Wisconsin. If you’ve
followed this saga, you’re aware that this is the first migratory class that
did not make it the last 400 miles to Florida. The cranes and crew were stalled
in Winston County Alabama for more than a month while the FAA decided whether
or not to allow the ultralight pilots to continue flying. Once the go-ahead was
given for the journey to continue, the young cranes put on the breaks. After
much discussion, it was decided to crate the nine cranes to nearby Wheeler
National Wildlife Refuge; not a bad place for a migratory bird to winter-over.
Hanging out at the refuge were thousands of sandhill cranes, dozens of waterfowl
species, and seven older whooping cranes from previous classes.
settling in on the refuge was ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker, whose task
was to watch the youngsters until it was time for them to fly north; if, indeed
they did fly north. Four days ago, they began showing signs of restlessness,
but as of today, March 25, Brooke still waits. Will this group leave or stay?
The jury is still out. Log-on to the OM website and read Brooke’s last two
reports: March 22: “Same Song - Different Rhythm,” and March 10: “Certainty.” http://www.operationmigration.org/FJ_2012Winter.html
the meantime, I have my hopes up and my fingers crossed.