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Whooping Cranes, events, mortalities
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject: Whooping Cranes, events, mortalities  Reply with quote

Operation Migration has had some headaches
**  The ultra-light aircraft people call a trike reminds me of a flying lawnmower.
 I think we were told they have raised the needed funds and now have these trikes and they will be used in 2014.

When they were delayed by the FAA, the birds had to be released in Alabama.
OM had an ex-employee who was badgering the FAA with complaints about them.
Basically, they're getting paid to fly ultra-lights, which is illegal.
So they stopped the migration when they found out the FAA was investigating, said they didn't want to break any laws.
The FAA eventually gave them a one-time exemption, but they had to get special pilots licenses last year,
and next year they have to get new planes and have them maintained 100% by a separate mechanic.
OM's argument was that they spent 98% of their time caretaking the birds, and they could volunteer the time they flew.

Whooping crane migration given green light by FAA
Jan 9, 2012
 - A flock of rare whooping cranes has been given the go-ahead to complete its inaugural winter migration after the FAA lifted restrictions on the pilots, who will guide them from Wisconsin to Florida wearing bird costumes.
The whooping cranes have been in pens since last month while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigated whether the 1,285-mile flight violates regulations.
The FAA said it would grant Operation Migration a one-time exemption to the pilots flying ultralight aircraft leading the whooping cranes, who were stalled in Alabama.
The issue arose because the pilots are being paid by the conservation group Operation Migration, violating FAA regulations that a pilot must hold a commercial rating to fly for hire. The Operation Migration pilots are licensed to fly lightweight sport aircraft.

An Operation Migration Facebook page read: YAHOO! Thank you to EVERYONE for your support!
You signed petitions and posted comments and the FAA listened. We are thrilled beyond belief!

Operation Migration is part of a public-private U.S.-Canadian partnership aimed at re-establishing migrating flocks of whooping cranes.
The FAA will work with Operation Migration to develop a long-term solution.
FAA rules forbid sport aircraft from being flown to benefit a charity or business, a regulation aimed at barring the charities or businesses from giving rides in the light craft.


One flight corridor for whooping cranes runs from western Canada to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
The current flight is part of an effort that started in 2001 to restart an eastern U.S. flyway from Wisconsin to Florida.
The goal is to create a new wild flock and this is their historical range.
The cranes are bred and hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, then transferred to a refuge in Wisconsin.

The birds are reared by conservationists in bird suits that conceal their human features.
They become conditioned to follow the suited handlers and a plane engine.

On the migratory route, the cranes follow the small plane flown by a pilot in a bird costume. The flock flies from 25 to 50 miles a day.
Once the route is flown the birds can make the return flight on their own.

*  They were grounded about 500 miles from their goal on December 21 following an outside complaint.
The group left Wisconsin with 10 birds.
About 90 cranes have been established on the eastern route since 2001.
They have started to reproduce in the wild in a slow expansion, with sexual maturity reached about age 6 years.
The whooping crane in North America's tallest bird, standing more than five feet high as adults, and wingspan can reach almost eight feet.
They have white bodies with a red crown and are named for their whooping sound.

Whooping cranes grounded by FAA
January 7, 2012
Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.
Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the FAA investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid, not working for free.
FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire.
FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft from being flown to benefit a charity.
The rules are aimed at preventing charities from taking passengers for joyrides in sometimes risky planes.

OM agreed voluntarily to stop flying and has applied to FAA for a waiver.
It's a slow trip, primarily because of the plane's limitations. No flying on windy or rainy days.
Then, just before Christmas, FAA officials told Operation Migration that they had opened an investigation of possible violations.
The birds are now safely penned in Franklin County, Ala.

Last edited by CJ on Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:44 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Operation Migration Raises Funds for New Aircraft
June 15, 2013

Operation Migration says its found a way to satisfy the FAA and whooping cranes to continue leading young birds on a migration from Wisconsin to Florida each fall. Two years ago, when a former pilot complained to the FAA about the nature of the flying in the operation (he claimed improperly licensed pilots were flying for hire in non-compliant aircraft), the FAA gave Operation Migration two years to meet new standards for the flying portion of the unique initiative. The FAA said the pilots, who are salaried employees, must have at least private pilot certificates and the aircraft have to meet at least SLSA standards. That's a considerable compromise from the normal standard that requires professional pilots to have commercial tickets and fly fully certified aircraft when they're on the clock.
The FAA wants to help OM achieve their mission.
Washington State trike manufacturer North Wing has taken on the task of providing an aircraft that meets the requirements of the birds and the FAA.

Operation Migration founder Joe Duff said the aircraft need to be able to fly safely on the ragged edge of a stall at times.
Although whooping cranes can cruise at 38 mph, they don't always maintain that pace so the aircraft needs to be able to fly slow enough to allow them to catch up.
Only a weight shift aircraft gives the pilot the precise control required to allow bird and machine to fly in formation.

Operation Migration aircraft adjusts to FAA regulations
June 14, 2013

**  To continue its mission guiding whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida, Operation Migration is working to replace its 3 ultralight aircraft by next spring in order to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Following an investigation in 2011, the FAA discovered that OM had been compensating their pilots for their migration trips, in violation of federal regulations for ultralights.
The small, open-air planes can be used only for recreational purposes.

The trike is a low-cost, low-speed, low-altitude aircraft.
When pilots are compensated, the bar is raised and that’s something that the FAA looks at with more scrutiny.
OM pilots were required to obtain private pilot licenses, according to OM pilot Joe Duff.

OM aircraft need to have a small 50-horsepower engine. The plane needs to travel 30 to 50 mph so the birds can keep up.
The new fleet also must have bird-friendly propeller guards and eventually will have speakers that
play a louder version of the comforting, brooding sound a mother whooping crane makes to her chicks.

The FAA allowed Operation Migration an exemption from the ultralight rules until April 30, 2014.
OM is using their current ultralights for the 2013 migration.
Whooping cranes now number 600 nationwide.

Bird's Eye Views
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whooping cranes Operation Migration class of 2013

Whooping Cranes migrating from Wisconsin to Florida, flying behind the trikes (flying lawn mower!)

Field journal
Writings by the pilots, photos

              Postings   <*))))><   by  

ZionsCRY DAILY NEWS with prophetic analysis

Last edited by CJ on Fri Jul 24, 2015 2:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Operation Migration
This is incomplete - sorry

Class of 2006
LIGHTNING  KILLS 17 Whooping Crane chicks

A severe storm, lightning killed 15 of the 16 cranes in their pen.
Only one whooping crane chick survives Fla. storms
February 07, 2007 - Male #15 broke loose from a top-netted pen when tornadoes struck and killed his 17 flock mates.

2015 - neither of these links has this story so did did a websearch
I believe #15 later died also.  I think all of a recent year perished too.

February 2, 2007
The storm killed the entire 2006 OM class, 17 birds

2009 class made it to Florida

Cow Pond Cranes in Alabama
December 2014
Cowpond pair produced a chick this year, * I think Heather said the chick didnt survive, uncertain.

Another Take-off & Turn-back October 22, 2010

2011  Wheeler Alabama
Calling it Quits January 29, 2012

The 9 young cranes are done following the pilots.  The OM Class of 2011 were crated and transported to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama. They are in good company: 7 older Whooping cranes and thousands of Sandhill cranes are wintering there too.

A bureaucratic glitch with the FAA and weather caused delays. By February, it was too warm to convince the cranes to fly any farther south than northern Alabama, and that's where they stayed until instinct told them to fly back to Wisconsin.

Cow Pond Cranes in Alabama
December 2014
Cranes #5-11 and #12-11 are paired and nested unsuccessfully in 2014.
Cranes #7-11 and #10-11 paired and produced a viable egg which didn’t make it.
They are returning to Wisconsin each year, and have nested at only three years old.

Class of 2014 Whooping Cranes RELEASED!
December 2014
The cranes have been in the top-netted pen at at St. Marks until about 3 hours ago.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

September 28, 2012
Six juvenile Whooping Cranes began their first fall migration at 7:38 a.m. today on the journey south from Wisconsin to Florida. Here's more good news: They successfully flew right over Stop #1 (just 5 miles from the White River Marsh training site) and onward to Stop #2 (another 14 miles farther).
That's 19 miles for Day 1 — and a joyous, lucky start for migration 2012!
They're safely penned in Marquette County, Wisconsin.

Migration is a process that requires help the first year of a Whooping Crane's life. That's Operation Migration's job. Pilot Richard launched and led them today, while pilot Brooke flew behind to help any tired birds.
Richard landed with five birds while Brooke brought up the rear with Crane #5.

All 9 got to Florida and 7 came back to Wisconsin
2 perished returning.

Whooping Cranes Operation Migration 2013
My blog

Whooping Cranes Operation Migration 2014
My blog

7 headed south.  Weather delays so serious OM finally crated the birds and drove them from Lodi Wisconsin to Tennessee.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whooping Crane survivability chances, mortality
January 2014

I found few statistics on survivability of Whooping Cranes.  I found a few doing a Bing.com websearch.  
Thruout 2013 OM (operation migration) posted mortality updates.  Since the posts were scattered, I went thru my notes to compile the data.
Contrary to the sassy chatroom mod, I dont enjoy crane deaths.  But a record needs to be made.

In his speech, Joe Duff mentioned they had *lost* some birds, but he gave few details.
OM pilot Joe Duff gives a talk about cranes. OM has lost a few birds for varying reasons.

Class of 2013 Pecking Order
This is the class migration I followed from Wisconsin to Florida

Class of 2013 migration from Wisconsin to Florida
These are my notes with pictures - screen shots mostly

Half of the 2012 chicks didnt survive their first year.

Mortality of whoopers seems to be inaccurate and largely guesswork.  Eessentially, if they lose one, its dead.  

Georgia December 2010 - Dead Whooping Cranes is a mystery
3 dead DAR whooping cranes found just west of Albany Georgia, part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Almont, N.D. - Whooping crane remains found in a field, broken neck.

Alabama - 2 Whooping cranes found shot dead, 12-04 and 22-10

Indiana - Whooping crane found dead from a shotgun wound.  I wonder if thats why OM no longer flies thru Indiana.

RIP 2006 Whoopers
In 2006 OM lost the entire group of cranes because they were trapped in a storm.
Sadly, all but one crane were killed February 2, 2007 when a storm hit their wintering grounds in Florida.
The remaining crane was also lost in the spring.

About the 2006 Storm
The Whooping Cranes suffered a major blow on February 2, 2007 when 17 juvenile birds were killed in a Florida storm
that also killed 20 people in tornadoes. The birds were in a pen to keep them safe from predators,
when they were stunned by a lightning strike estimated to have hit 150 feel from the pen.
Necropsy results showed they likely collapsed after being stunned, and drowned in rising water in their top-netted pen.
Up until this event, no captive Whooping Crane anywhere had ever been killed by lightning.
One of the young cranes managed to escape the pen during the storm and was discovered alive on Feb. 3.
He survived winter but died the end of April. Cause of death is being investigated.
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    PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Whooping Crane Update, 1 September
    14 November 2013
     OM Heather Ray report
    The eastern migratory population is 108 birds (58 males and 50 females).
    29 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, 5 in Illinois, 21 in Indiana, 2 in Tennessee, 5 in Kentucky, 2 in Alabama, 35 at unknown locations on migration
    3 not recently reported, 2 presumed dead, and 2 long term missing.

    The deaths of male and female wild-hatched chicks.
    W1-12 and W8-12 were discovered during an aerial tracking flight on 2 October on state wildlife property near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
    Their heavily scavenged remains were collected on 2 and 3 October respectively.

    The fully intact carcass of female parent-reared juvenile 21-13 was collected on the shoulder of a public road through the Necedah on 2 October.

    The scavenged remains of female parent-reared juvenile 20-13 were collected on 15 October on Necedah. Her death was discovered during an aerial tracking flight the previous day.

    Wild-hatched female W1-10 died in captivity 2 November despite efforts to rehabilitate her.
    She had been discovered injured at Necedah on 9 September.

    The remains of DAR (Direct Autumn Release) juvenile male 53-13 were discovered at Horicon on 13 November.

    Suspected Mortalities

    Male 5-05 and female no. 22-07 (both with nonfunctional transmitters) are suspected dead but are still included in the population totals above.
    No. 22-07’s mate has been observed on their previous wintering territory in Gibson County, Indiana, alone.

    W1-10 was reported with an injury on 9 September. She was captured at Necedah on 12 September and transported to the International Crane Foundation. She had sustained wounds on her left foot and her lower right leg. Despite rehabilitation efforts, she succumbed to internal injuries.

    2013  DAR Cohort

    Nine DAR juveniles were released 24 October at Horicon, Dodge County, Wisconsin. One juvenile sustained a minor leg injury and another (53-13) was discovered dead on 13 November.

    PR 20-13 and 21-13 were killed shortly after release (see mortality section).

    Long Term Missing
    Male 12-07
    was last observed on the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on 25 April 2012. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

    November 12, 2013  report
    The deaths of 2 wild-hatched chicks were discovered October 2 near Necedah.
    A parent-reared juvenile #21-13 was collected October 2 on the shoulder of a public road by Necedah.
    The scavenged remains of parent-reared juvenile #20-13 were collected October 15 at Necedah.
    Wild-hatched female #W1-10 died in captivity November 2.
    The remains of DAR #53-13 were discovered November 13 on Horicon.

    One of the DAR cranes was killed by a predator.

    Jan. 15, 2014  Heather report
    Two Whooping cranes were found in Hopkins County, KY in November 2013, likely shot.
    Both cranes were from Operation Migration.
    The female #5 2009, was discovered and taken to a Kentucky rehabilitation center but had to be euthanized.

    The scavenged remains of Male #33 2007 were found nearby. Bullet fragments from a rifle were discovered in crane 5-09 when the wildlife forensics lab in Oregon performed a necropsy.

    What is DAR
    DAR (direct autumn release) Neceedah, Wisc. International Crane Foundation
    DAR success is slightly less than OM's
    DAR chicks are released on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge near ICF in fall
    Dar sends the crane chicks to Necedah Wis shortly prior to release - when chicks are a few months old.
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    PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    $15,250 REWARD
    Jan 27, 2014
    Reward Now at $15,250 for Information Leading to Arrest and Conviction on Whooping Crane Shot in Kentucky
    Anyone with information concerning the killing of the whooping cranes is urged to contact Special Agent Bob Snow at (502) 582-5989, ext. 29
    or the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources dispatch at 1-800-25ALERT (800-252-5378)

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources are requesting assistance with an investigation involving the unlawful shooting of a whooping crane near Pond River on the Hopkins and Muhlenberg County line.

    Whooping cranes are the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, with less than 500 living in the wild in the United States. Kentucky is fortunate to have seven whooping cranes wintering in the Commonwealth this year.

    On November 25, 2013, the International Crane Foundation received a report from a Hopkins County resident of a whooping crane that appeared to be injured. Initially, the wounded crane was still able to fly, but was extremely weakened, and was rescued on November 27, 2013. Among other injuries, the crane’s upper leg was shattered. Attempts to save the bird were unsuccessful, and the crane identified as 5-09 had to be euthanized.

    Its mate 33-07 carcass recovered in northeast Muhlenburg County along Pond River north of Hwy 70 on December 13, 2013.
    Investigators believe both cranes, recovered five miles apart, were shot in the same incident.

    Sad  Only 2 out of 9 of the 2013 DAR Cranes Remain  Sad
    Jan 27, 2014
    by Heather Ray, OM
    The three 2013 DAR Whooping Cranes in Illinois have died, likely due to predation.

    The two remaining 2013 DAR birds are both doing well. Mork (#57-13) remains at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee after migrating there earlier this fall. Latka (#59-13) has been hanging out with adult Whooping Cranes at Wheeler NWR.

    2013 DAR birds did not migrate within a similar time frame as the wild birds around them.
    3 chicks were lost prior to migration with predation suspected, and 1 lost to pneumonia.
    Once the environment became inhospitable, the remaining four chicks did migrate south.

    It is a fact that half of the birds hatched - across species - do not survive their first year.
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    PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    2006 Migration successful for 17 crane colts

    Sad   February 2, 2007
    The storm killed the entire 2006 OM class, 17 birds

    2008 Migration
    St. Marks 7 cranes Complete Migration!
    January 17, 2009  The St. Marks Seven (805, 812, 813, 826, 828, 829 and 830) are home!
    Birds showed some independence by trying at least twice to break away instead of following Richard.
    But Richard and his 'wingmen' (Joe, Brooke, and Chris) were expert air shepherds.

    January 21, 2009
    The 7 flew 2 legs, 86 miles and landed in Gilchrist County, Florida.
    Pilot Joe Duff performed the first air pickup.  2 miles out, Brooke moved in to pick up the birds off Joe's wing, as Joe could not fly slower than 38 mph without his engine stalling, and the birds had trouble keeping up with him. Joe suspected that a bit of the wingcover got caught in his propeller and caused the problem. But all pilots and birds landed safely.

    January 23, 2009: Chass 7 Complete Migration!
    Heather - At 10:43 there are 6 on the ground and one very reluctant bird that does NOT want to land.
    So OM boxed #804 male for an airboat ride out to the release pen.
    Health checks and banding will happen next week, then life as wild, free cranes begins.

    The Class of 2008 is the eighth group to be guided by ultralights
    from central Wisconsin to Florida for the winter.
    6 DAR chicks also migrated.

    October 17, 2008 Migration 2008 is Underway!
    OM had a 4th pilot named Chris

    Fall 2009 Migration

    *  Its not all that easy to find info!

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