Whooping Crane Project
Over the past several years, work has been proceeding to bring about the first Whooping Crane migraton project. There are currently fewer than 200 of these majestic birds in the wild and most of them are in a single flock. In order to build the flock and locate the whooping cranes in areas that are less dangerous, research efforts have been under way to teach the birds new migration paths.
In 1995 and 1996, trial experiments were undertaken to teach the more common sandhill cranes a new migration route from southeast Idaho to central New Mexico. Sandhill cranes were hatched from eggs, nurtured and raised by Kent Clegg a research biologist from southeast Idaho. These cranes imprinted on Kent and followed him like a parent. From walking, to running, to flying behind a four-wheeler, to flying behind his ultralight airplane these sandhills followed Kent from Idaho to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico.
The projects for both years were successful with the sandhills finding their way back to southeast Idaho in the spring after being led to New Mexico in the fall. With the completion of the first two migrations, it was determined to advance the research to include the endangered whooping cranes in 1997.
The 1997 project began with the hatching of the crane eggs in the spring. The baby cranes imprinted on Kent while at the research center in Maryland. After a few weeks of growth, they were transported to Idaho where they learned to follow Kent and after several months to fly with him.
Beginning in mid October, four whooping cranes and 10-12 sandhill cranes will begin their first migration south for the winter lead by Kent Clegg in his Dragonfly ultralight airplane. Stay tuned to these pages for a day-by-day update on the 1997 migration.
You can help with and be a part of the 1997 whooping crane migration. This project is funded in part by donations from individual contributors who are interested in bringing back these graceful birds. If you would like to donate, send contributions to:
Ultra Air Research
550 Bench-Lago Road
Grace, ID 83241