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"Class of 2004" Whooping Cranes Arrive in Florida and are Poised to Arrive at Chassahowitzka NWR This Week


December 6, 2004

Heather Ray, Operation Migration, Inc., (905) 718-1292 (cell)
Chuck Underwood, USFWS Southeast Region, (904) 910-6254 (cell), (904) 232-2580 ext. 109
Sarah Palmisano, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, (352) 563-2088, x210
Henry Cabbage, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, (850) 488-8843
Rachel F. Levin, WCEP/USFWS Midwest Region, (612) 309-5760 (cell)
Joan Garland, WCEP/International Crane Foundation, (608)381-1262 (cell)


Fourteen young whooping crane chicks and their human surrogate parents arrived in Florida over the weekend.

The cranes and planes arrived at their first Florida stop in Hamilton County on Saturday (Day 56). Yesterday, they flew an additional 60.6 miles to their stopover in Gilchrist County, Florida.

To date they have completed 1,124 miles of their approximately 1,200 mile fall journey.

The planes, cranes and ground crew left the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin on October 10.

Today the crew stood down due to a head winds which would have made movement to the next stop or to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, FL impossible.

Based on current weather forecasts, it is likely that the first possible day for arriving at their final destination will be Wednesday, December 8: however, should weather permit they could try as early as tomorrow morning. You can monitor the web sites for details and updates, as well as by calling the daily recorded information line at 904-232-2580 ext. 124. The recorded information is updated each morning and will be the first place updated with final arrival information.

As in the past, weather permitting, the cranes and planes will attempt to pass near the Crystal River Mall en route to the their final destination. The schedule for that day would have the public and media arriving by 8 a.m. with an opportunity to talk with the pilots at approximately 10 a.m. once they have delivered the birds to their winter home and returned to the mainland.

Detailed information on the project is available at

Detailed information on this fall's ultralight-led migration is available at

Detailed information on previous year cranes and their unassisted migration(s) is available at

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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