Sunday's for the Birds: Will They Stay or Will They Go?


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. 
         Also 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
         In the meantime, I have my hopes up and my fingers crossed.