Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, Operation Migration partners with numerous government and private organizations in the United States and Canada to successfully lead juvenile Whooping cranes on their first fall migration. These efforts have resulted in eight successful migrations and 81 wild Whooping cranes living and migrating in the eastern United States.
In his comments, the Secretary stated, “Operation Migration has successfully reintroduced whooping cranes into their historic range in eastern North America by teaching them to migrate; few other organizations have such a direct interaction with the species they are trying to preserve.”
US Fish and Wildlife Service and voice of wisdom, stability and encouragement, along with two young conservationists, Alex Duff and Taylor Richter, on the Secretary's balcony at the Dept of Interior.
This image brings to mind the other important partners in Operation Migration’s conservation efforts, our many loyal supporters of all ages. Supporters are the energy, the funding and the encouragement that keeps Operation Migration’s work going.
There is nothing easy about ultralight-led migration and no end to the unpredictable obstacles that both cranes and planes may face. The story of a Whooping crane chick’s journey from hatchling to a fledged ‘ultracrane’ juvenile migrating on his first journey south behind ultralight 'parents' is a story that captures the hearts and imaginations of children and adults of all ages. And when you put together the hearts and imagination of thousands of people, you have created boundless energy in support of conservation.
Whooping cranes have become that champion, exemplifying in their tenacious survival what man and nature can overcome with a little imagination and a lot of hard work. This truly is the future of conservation.
Top image: Ultralight migration departure from the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge near Dayton, TN, 2004
Bottom image: Pilot Brook Pennypacker leads a young Whooping crane fledgling on a solo practice session at Necedah Wildlife Refuge, 2004.
Visit Operation Migration's field journal to stay up to date on migration progress and read more about the challenges our whooping cranes face.
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #37 at Birdfreak.com to promote the conservation of our world's birds.