Endangered Whooping Cranes Stalled in Alabama

Published: Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:23 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:45 PM EST
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For the first time in 11 years, a flock of endangered whooping cranes that normally pass through Georgia won't make it to their destination.

Operation Migration uses ultra light aircraft to lead the birds from Wisconsin to Florida each year.

They decided Thursday, nine young cranes won't press on any further.

Instead, they'll be crated this weekend and transported to Alabama's Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge for the rest of winter.

The birds have been in northern Alabama since before Christmas because of delays with the FAA and the birds lack of cooperation.

"We're finding out from other folks that birds are reluctant to migrate in general, they're stopping more I northern states than they are coming further south, and these birds started showing patterns of wanting to turn around and go back north instead of continuing south," said Dale Richter, Operation Migration Board Chairman.

Operation Migration will try to crate the birds early in the morning when temperatures are cooler, in an effort not to minimize stress and keep the birds from overheating.