Whooping cranes migrate to Florida with aircraft assistance

By on November 27th, 2012

As winter approaches, Florida is expecting an influx of “snowbirds” or people who head south during the colder months. In addition to these people, real birds are also making the trip down to the Sunshine State.

Whooping crane

Larry Meade / Flickr

Whooping cranes learn to migrate from ultralight planes.

Ultralight aircraft led five whooping cranes from Wisconsin to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County. The cranes started their journey in early September and arrived Tuesday.

David Lopez, a whooping crane biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said the ultralight planes teach the cranes how to migrate because they are not able to do so on their own.

“They view this ultralight plane, which is basically a hang glider with an engine on it, as their parent,” Lopez said. “They learn to follow it around at a very early age, and once they can fly they learn to fly behind it.”

This year only five birds made the journey, a smaller number than usual.

Abandonment issues and low breeding are being investigated through experiments as reasons for the smaller number, according to Lopez. Black flies may be a contributing factor because they are known to bite the whooping cranes, which causes them to leave their nests.

This is the 12th group guided by ultralight aircraft to the Gulf Coast, according to the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

The partnership said about 450 whooping cranes live in the wild. About 115 reside in the eastern part of North America.

Cassandra Vangellow wrote this story for online. 

This entry was posted in Environment, Florida and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Pingback: Whooping cranes migrate to Florida with aircraft assistance – WUFT | Learn to Fly()

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.ethridgesilva Donna Ethridge Silva

    It was a beautiful sight to see them flying over St Marks it was our first time to see this it is amazing I took lots of pictures

  • Plow Comms

    If we examine the contrast between liberty and servitude, we discover that the “negative” sense of liberty does not reduce its desirability.


More Stories in Environment

Microbeads, plastic fragments found in foaming soaps and other hygiene products, pose a threat to waterways and marine life once they are washed down the drain.

Microbeads In Everyday Products Damages Ecosystems

Microbeads, like the ones found in common toothpastes and facial products, are damaging the environment more than many people know. The particles in these beads can enter oceans and rivers, disrupting marine life and causing damage to the ecosystem.

Jim Karels, director of the Florida Forest Service, recently received an award from the National Association of State Foresters for his success in doing prescribed burns in Florida.

State Forester Recognized For National Impact

A Florida forester received a national award for fire prevention. He calls prescribed burns the “single most important” land management tool in the state.

At the Alachua County Materials Recovery Facility, workers find many people are recycling aseptic containers, like a soymilk carton, into the wrong recycling bin. “We do take those, but they go in your blue bin, or in your co-mingle bin, with all the other containers,” said Jeff Klugh, recycling program coordinator at the Alachua County Public Works Waste Management Division. “They are sorted as a container, not as a paper product.”

Alachua County Ranks Seventh Statewide In Successful Recycling

Contamination in recycling has lead to deficit for the national recycling industry. Alachua County has managed to remain successful due to their dual stream system.

Bee Keeper

Florida Celebrates National Honey Month, Increases Production And Profit

The month of September is National Honey Month, which marks the end of honey collection for most beekeepers across America. Florida consistently ranks top five for honey production in the country and is seeing an increase in the number of bee colonies in the past 8 years. As a result, the state generates a $13 million annual honey profit.

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a treasure that could be affected by rising sea levels.

Project Proposal To Study Effects of Rising Sea Levels In St. Augustine

The new project proposal would go into effect Oct. 1, if approved. Researchers hope to help preserve St. Augustine by highlighting vulnerable areas in infrastructure so the city is better prepared for rising sea levels.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments