Whooping cranes stop in South Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Whooping cranes stop in South Georgia

December 1, 2003
Terrell County- These whooping cranes have taken off from places across the country for the past 40 days.

This flock is part of Operation Migration .

"What the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership is trying to do is re-establish a flock of whooping cranes in eastern North America," said Joe Duff, co-founder of Operation Migration.

The birds are raised in isolation and eventually introduced to the wild through this migratory flight. But while they're growing up, they never see a human.

"We wear a big baggy costume that covers our entire body, covers your hands, everything," Duff said. "We look through a visor that's tinted, so they can't see our faces."

"Now a whooping crane is about five and a half feet tall. So you don't want that bird accustomed to humans. They'll be in your backyard looking for handouts and that's not the kind of bird you want there."

The birds follow ultra-light planes on their trip south. On traveling days, they usually get about two to three hours of flying time. On a good day, they fly about 100 miles.

Monday was a really, really good day.

"Today we had a terrific tail wind, so even though the birds were flying at 38 miles per hour, we we're crossing the ground at about 80 miles per hour. It's kind of like paddling downstream. So we managed to do almost 200 miles today."

So they set a record when they landed in South Georgia. They're staying in an undisclosed location until they take off Tuesday. That is if the whether cooperates and if the birds are ready fly.

The birds final destination is in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Citrus County, Florida.

posted at 10:27 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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