It’s a WRAP!!!

Date: December 11, 2014 Migration Day: 63
Dist. Traveled: 28 miles
Total Dist. 1100 miles
Location: St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida


And so ends another southward, aircraft-guided Whooping crane migration. Our 14th successful journey guiding young-of-year Whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida. They trusted us. We had faith in them. We got it done and very soon, once they undergo their final health check and permanent legbands and transmitters they can be truly wild cranes… Wary of people and all things ‘human.’

This morning after a flight lasting 50 minutes, our seven 7 month old Whooping cranes touched down for the first time on their new winter home when Colleen Chase and I called them down. They seemed a bit reluctant to leave the aircraft guides that safely led them here. Cutting the ties is the first step to freedom.

If you’ve only recently begun following our journey, be sure to check out the Timelines page and our Migration Map to learn all the details.

We need to thank the entire Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership for their support and encouragement but especially the staff and volunteers of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge for their determination and work ethic to do whatever needs to be done to get the pensite ready and to welcome these incredible cranes to their new winter home.

And finally, you, our supporters – your encouragement and unwavering support is what makes this possible. Thank you!

Stay safe our seven feathered friends… Free and wild. Live long… multiply!

Fly on…

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  1. Marybelle Luckason December 12, 2014 11:41 am

    You have preformed a miracle. When you think about, what you all have accomplished has changed the world. All of the followers thoughts and Prayers helped you to achieve your goal. May God speed you to you homes, safe and sound.

  2. Anna December 12, 2014 7:47 am

    Congratulations OM! Thank you for another successful migration leading a class of whooping cranes to freedom in the wild, all due to the dedication and perseverance of an amazing team. Safe journeys to all of you as you return home. We’ll be looking to the skies next year when the cranes make a return flight to their summer home here in Wisconsin.

  3. Doug Pellerin December 12, 2014 7:45 am

    Way to go OM. Safe travels home all.

  4. Hope Brogunier December 11, 2014 9:09 pm

    Happy tears!Gratitude for all of you on the team and for the amazing whoopers!

  5. Catherine Wohlfeil December 11, 2014 8:49 pm

    Never in the past have I encountered an organization which so wholeheartedly and unfailingly supports the foundation on which it was formed – to help save wildlife and the environment.

    No ethic can better be promoted in our children and in ourselves, than to go forward in the face of adversity, to hold true to our beliefs, and to conquer all that is in our path.

    In a time when so much divides and disheartens, this organization truly unites in a cause greater than ourselves.

    And, all hail Peanut. He needed some help along the way to get to the place where he was going… but don’t we all….

  6. Maggie Turk December 11, 2014 7:51 pm

    When I think back to the first year of OM and starting this migration thing , I just have to marvel at the dedication of all the OM crew and volunteers that have made it all possible. How I would be so anxious to read the FJ each day and then came the cam project and it brought us right into your “rumble seat” of your planes along with the birds. It has been a marvelous ride each year. I am so happy that you have them safely in Florida again this year. Brooke , we will not forget to keep voting for you. Take care all.


  7. Madeline December 11, 2014 7:32 pm

    Thank you one and all! Everyone has said most of it, thank you for enduring all the frustrations you mostly do not verbalize. Here’s to the New Year and hoping for many many 2015 chicks to lead to Florida. Godspeed! Now where’s my Kleenex!

  8. Margie Tomlinson December 11, 2014 6:31 pm

    Another user great song to add to OM’s repetoire! It’s been wonderful to watch again for another whole year. Congratulations, Whoopers, on your graduation to the next phase/stage! Luv u so much! <3

  9. Julie December 11, 2014 6:29 pm

    For the past several years, I have driven up from Miami to see the flyover. Unfortunately, this year I missed it – but, I look forward to it next year. Fantastic job, OM, as usual! You inspire us to do something, anything, that makes the planet a better place.

    As for Coldplay, they can thank OM for selling at least one CD. I’m a fan of Coldplay, but didn’t have their latest CD. As soon as I heard that song here, I ran out and bought it; everytime I hear that song, I will think of whoopers. LOVE it! LOVE OM!

    Till next year!!!


  10. Wendy Bartter December 11, 2014 5:52 pm

    Am in UK & this is my first time of watching this project & totally absorbing! Wish to add my congratulations to a wonderfully dedicated team!

  11. Carol Berglund December 11, 2014 4:54 pm

    Thank you all, OM and supporters. Thank you heather for sharing the beautiful song. God bless and keep the cranes!

  12. Dave & Sheryl Erickson December 11, 2014 4:45 pm

    WHOOP! Congrats to everyone at OM! For the team – godspeed as you journey to your own “wintering grounds” – and thanks to Brooke who will serve as colt caretaker. We’ll hope for news of the class of 2014 headed back towards Wisconsin in the spring!

  13. Talon Strike December 11, 2014 4:32 pm

    Congratulations to the OM Team! Another spectacular job well done!

  14. Patti Hakanson December 11, 2014 4:26 pm

    Words can not describe this morning’s flight and view as we watched the pilots lead out babies over our heads to the final stop at St. Mark’s, awe, joy, bitter sweet sadness and appreciation for another job well done and another chance at survival of the species. A moment that none of us will soon forget, Thank Yiou OM and St. Marks for a wonedrful, amazing and emotional day.

  15. jillbru December 11, 2014 3:40 pm

    A thankful message from me to everyone:

    Our 2014 Whoopers have been so entertaining – they are so chockful of personality, finding their own ways to have fun – I have loved watching the building of the sod chowder each day in their pen. And I will never forget Peanut.

    Thanks to the OM crew, those we could see and those who worked so hard behind the scene. The Q & A Sundays were WONDERFUL! And I got to meet Murray!

    I’m so glad that most of the crew will get to be with their loved ones in time for Christmas (I hope Joe gets to ski a lot with his daughter!) Special hugs to Brooke, who will babysit our newly free Whoopers this winter.

    Thanks to the chat Mods, who were always present, always friendly and welcoming, and quick with answers to our questions. (And who calmed us down when we got too worried!)

    Lastly, thanks to my fellow chatters – we are quiet, lurky and loud, helpful and fun to talk with, welcoming to newbies and old hands alike, and all totally dedicated to the whole wonderful crazy idea of helping fix what almost was broken years ago.


  16. knapdale December 11, 2014 3:23 pm

    Well done all OM staff in getting through the tribulations of an unkind weather year to bring the Class of 2014 safely to St. Mark’s. It was wonderful to see Peanut and Marsha fly at last. Thoughts for you all

  17. Eileen Hale December 11, 2014 3:14 pm

    Yay! Yay, cranes! Yay, cranes and planes!!! And thank you all.

  18. JeanfromLodi December 11, 2014 3:07 pm

    What an honor it’s been to get to see you crazy people in action! Congratulations on psyching out your charges so successfully. I’ve learned so much from your generous posts. Our dogs Maddy and Bailey miss you, especially Heather and Joe, and also send their love as you prepare to return to your other loved ones!!

  19. Kasie December 11, 2014 2:57 pm

    Congratulations! So glad everyone is safe! Thank you, OM!

  20. Pat Kinser December 11, 2014 2:41 pm

    Thank you to the OM team, volunteers, supporters, encouragers, cranes for flying and learning and to our God for keeping them safe. What a good morning. I look forward to next migration. Heather, perfect song for today and the future. Thank you all. Oh, and for the chat friends. I lurk but enjoy you all.


  21. Jayne Gulbrand December 11, 2014 2:13 pm

    Well done and thank you OM!!!! Stay safe and fly free burdies, we love you forever!

  22. PattiLat December 11, 2014 2:05 pm

    Magnificent is the word to describe the devotion and passion each of you put into this venture. We sincerely thank you for sharing your hearts and souls with us over these many months. Well done faithful servants. . .stewarts of the Whoopers. “Our” little SEVEN are on their way, the world a little bit better place, a magnificent achievement!! Brooke and the St. Mark’s group now continue the hard work. And, we will continue to keep you all in our hearts with good wishes. Then. . .here comes 2015!

  23. Jeanne Huie December 11, 2014 1:59 pm

    Congratlations OM team! Thank you for the birds and all that you have shared. Safe travels!

  24. Brigitte Schmidt December 11, 2014 1:58 pm

    Congratulations OM on your arrival in FL and thanks for all your hard work throughout the year! We missed seeing you and the chicks in Winnebago and LaSalle Counties, IL this year but I think you did the right thing. Stay well and fly on indeed…..

  25. Bill December 11, 2014 1:51 pm

    OUTSTANDING flyby this morning!! There were several hundred of us photographers / birders awaiting your arrival (I could have made a fortune selling coffee in the 35 degree weather) and we were not disappointed. The best flyby that I’ve seen you guys do. Thank you for your helping the photographers by approaching with the best of light!

  26. Cathy December 11, 2014 12:43 pm

    Congratulations OM for another successful migration! Congrats to the class of 2014 too! Thank you seems inadequate to express our gratitude for your heart, perseverance and your dedication to this great and noble cause. Thank you for all your efforts to share as much as possible with us, both behind the scenes and on camera. Thank you for your delightful sense of humor even in the most trying of times. We are all so very happy that you will soon be with your loved ones once again, and a great big thank you to them for sharing you with us and the birds. We look forward to hearing that each of you has returned home safe and sound. To all of Operation Migration and all of the volunteers and supporters, you ROCK!

  27. Vannie zych December 11, 2014 12:42 pm

    You’s Have made it down to ST Marks safe and free and wild Congrats to the OM for your vantasit job for bring young whooper cranes to ST Marks See you’s back in Wisconsin for the 2015 young whooper cranes, TAKE CARE And have a great holly Days.


  28. Bristol Haughton December 11, 2014 12:42 pm

    Well done Friends. Looking forward now to next year and watching every day. Thank You For The Memories !

  29. eugenia (aka CraneWatcher) December 11, 2014 12:35 pm

    Home Sweet (winter) Home….

    It’s just not possible to thank ALL of the OM staff enough this year. What a trying year it became but you all came through ‘smelling like roses’! Now I hope you can all have some well-deserved time with your human families. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  30. Christy December 11, 2014 12:35 pm

    Thank you, OM!

  31. Nina Kirienko December 11, 2014 12:23 pm

    To paraphrase Neil Armstrong: small steps that leave you covered in mud; one giant leap towards a species saved. Thank you all for what you do. And congratulations on a successful 2014.

  32. willem kranendonk December 11, 2014 12:18 pm

    Congratulations from a Dutch craniac!

  33. Mindy December 11, 2014 12:16 pm

    Tears, tears, tears…..Of joy that they are safely in Florida, of relief, of sadness that this time with them is short before they are all on their own, but yes, that is the goal, I know. I must place them in my Father’s Hands for He is the only one who sees them always. But I believe that someday I will fly with them in Heaven, Heather, like that beautiful song said that you posted. Where I live, there is not much chance of seeing any Whooping cranes fly over on migration but because of Operation Migration and the wonderful work you all do, I will always look up to the skies in search of those long trailing legs and the beautiful black and white. Lord, bless the Class of 2014.

  34. JeanneAH December 11, 2014 12:16 pm

    What a long strange trip it’s been … Best wishes to all OM pilots and crew and thanks for the ride … Congratulations!

  35. willem kranendonk December 11, 2014 12:15 pm

    Congratulations ftom a Dutch craniac.!

  36. marje Lloyd December 11, 2014 12:14 pm

    another amazing and challenging Migration, thankyou all at operation migration , for your dedication and determination. I am constantly amazed each time i see a burd in the air, thank you so much.The migration north should be interesting to say the if my alarm cat will let me maybe I can sleep late for a few months

  37. CraftyC December 11, 2014 12:11 pm

    I would like to thank the OM team members who faithfully gave us journal reports through the whole migration…I know there must have been times all you wanted to do was collapse on the couch with a warm drink but instead provided us with an account of the day’s us a peek into your lives and a smile or two on top of it all! Congratulations on the migration this year….. so glad you will be able to enjoy the holidays with your families.

  38. Ella December 11, 2014 12:00 pm

    …and on our anniversary. …even makes the day more special….sweeeet!

  39. Warrenwesternpa December 11, 2014 11:58 am

    To the entire Operation Migration Team, and the wonderful chatters and supporters of this project. 2014 was a delightful year of new friends, commitment and accomplishment. The whooping Crane flock has increased and our world is a better place. We can become discouraged with some aspects of our lives but rare opportunities such as these will always over come the bad. Thank you everyone for your support. I’m looking forward to more whooper observations during the winter and of course the “fly away home” next spring!

  40. westendoldbird December 11, 2014 11:39 am

    Congrats and have a safe journey home.

  41. Bonnie December 11, 2014 11:34 am

    “Stay safe…free and wild…live long…multiply…”