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Great Lakes Article:

Cranes lay over in Kentucky

By JO SANDIN
Article courtesy of the Miwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nov. 8, 2001

A new migratory flock of whooping cranes - the first to be established east of the Mississippi in more than a century - has reached the halfway point on its historic flight from future nesting grounds in central Wisconsin to a winter home in Florida.

The six remaining birds flew 55 miles Thursday before landing in a remote area of Adair County, Ky. They are following an ultralight plane flown by a pilot from Operation Migration, which has taught migration routes to juvenile sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans.

A seventh whooping crane, No. 4, is riding in a transport crate in one of the ground vehicles following the flight.

He split off from the flock on the first day of the migration, Oct. 17, and continued to go his own way as the migration continued. Crane handlers say they hope he can join the flight later in the migration, which is expected to end at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida before the end of the month.

Ten cranes made the journey (in a private jet donated by a project supporter) to Necedah in July from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. One died Sept. 11 of stress during a health check by veterinarians who attached radio transmitters to the endangered birds.

Another suffered damaged wing feathers and will become part of a breeding program at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

Eight juvenile birds formed the flock when they left Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin last month. No. 3 was found dead Oct. 25 beneath a power line in Green County, Wis., the morning after the cranes escaped when wind gusts of 50 mph collapsed their overnight pen.

To follow the migration, see www.bringbackthecranes.org or www.operationmigration.org

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