Operation Migration is a non-profit organization devoted to the reintroduction of endangered Whooping Cranes throughout North America.
October 13th is the date we would expect to begin the migration if you average all of our actual departure dates over the last fourteen years. Prior to that, we set a target departure date so we have a deadline when the equipment and the crew are ready. In truth though, it is a good example of the conflict between the ambitions of people and the hard rules of nature and the weather. We can plan all we want but that has no influence over the weather or the birds.
Today was our target departure date for the 2014 migration but it stormed all night, the ceilings are low and wind is gusting to 15. In addition to that, we still have a lot of work to do. The birds received their transmitters this past week. All of them except number 4, whose leg is injured, where fitted with leg mounted VHF units and three of them had backpack satellite devices attached. That meant they had to be grabbed and held for 20 minutes and to a Whooping crane, there is no greater indignity. Their trust in us evaporated when we caught them by the bustle and escorted them out the gate to the waiting handlers who slipped a hood over the eyes and gathered them up.
With patience, they will get over their distrust but some of them are sore from struggling and each one has a different tolerance for new hardware they carry. Add to that a long string of windy mornings and we end up with birds unsure they can fly and reluctant to follow us.
None of this is new. We have faced delayed starts almost every year for one reason or another, yet we manage to get it done eventually. October 13th is a long way off so we will plod ahead. One morning the birds will feel better about us, the winds will calm and off we will go. Nature has its own speed and we would all fare better if we worked with it and not against it.
Bidding is NOW open on our 2014 online Facebook auction!We’re very excited to have 34 WONDERFUL items in this auction, all donated by YOU, our faithful supporters! Here’s where the items are located: http://on.fb.me/XZmyVm. Here’s how the online auction works:
Here’s a FUN way to support whooping cranes!Purchase a 2014 Whooping crane Chip from our Marketplace for $20. Each Chip is individually numbered and contains an alpha/numeric code. As soon as you receive your Chip in the mail, visit www.coinlogin.org to register your name and email, along with your Chip number and code. Over the next few months, we’ll be holding random draws for some fun items so keep an eye on your inbox. Once all the Chips are gone, we’ll hold FOUR additional draws:
Joan asks - “Does all these no-training days become a problem for the cranes flight schedule”?
If only we could hatch the cranes earlier so they would fledge in July. That way they would be ready to leave on the migration in August when the weather is still cooperating.
In July the calm mornings allow us to train almost every day, but toward the end of August the fall weather system sets in and training days become as rare as Whooping cranes. It is bad timing because that is just when we need good flying conditions to increase their endurance and keep them following.
This is the season when bad habits are dangerous. If we get another episode of behavior like number 10 displayed earlier in the summer, we don’t have the flying days to correct it. The problem just gets worse as time goes on and the start of migration turns into a fiasco and we have all seen that one act play.
There is nothing we can do about good weather withdrawal. We go through the 12 steps from denial to anger and finally acceptance. Then, when Indian Summer finally arrives, we start over and somewhere in central Illinois it all comes together. The birds finally get the message.
We get a few flyable days in a row and the reward is a long string of pearls off the wing tip of the lead aircraft and a light at the end of the migration tunnel.
All we can do now is cross our fingers and know that we will see you on the other side.