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This morning I woke up very early to hike to the top of a bluff along the Wisconsin River. Not simply because it’s one of the few sunny days we’ll have this fall, or because I’d gotten into the routine of waking up at 6 a.m. to head to a seasonal internship at the International Crane Foundation, but because this year’s class of juvenile Whooping Cranes, being led on their first migration to Florida by the Ultralights of Operation Migration, was scheduled to fly over Ferry Bluff en route to stopover #3.

Operation Migration

This isn’t the best photo – taken with a small point and shoot digital camera. Check out the Operation Migration site to get the story of this project, and the International Crane Foundation’s site for regular updates on this and another Whooping Crane release project called Direct Autumn Release (DAR). ICF produces a large percentage of the chicks for both release efforts each year, and provides tracking and veterinary care for the birds. You can also sign up to receive regular updates on the birds from the time they’re eggs through their release and arrivals in Chassahowitzka, Florida.