Rain, Rain Go AWAY!

Our five young Whooping cranes arrived at their current location (Saline County, IL) on the afternoon of April 6th. As of this morning, they are still there.

Many people have asked why. Take a look at the weather conditions they’ve had since arriving and you’ll understand.


Click to enlarge

Apr. 6 – Arrived afternoon

Apr. 7 – Thunderstorms

Apr. 8 – Thunderstorms

Apr. 9 – Thunderstorms

Apr. 10 – Rain

Apr. 11 – Strong winds gusting to 20mph

Apr. 12 – Storms to the north

Apr. 13 – Morning showers. Cranes thermaled and headed north during a 50 minute flight only to return. Radar showed showers to the north.

Apr. 14 – NNE winds ~10mph. Rain

Apr. 15 – E winds ~9mph. Rain

Regular readers will also recall that 2 yr. old male no. 9-13 is also taking his time returning north. As of this morning he is located at the same latitude as our five youngsters and in the neighboring county. He’s approximately 30 miles west of the Class of 2014.

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  1. Susan O’Connell April 16, 2015 11:46 am

    But 5-12 who led them up to that point made it home?

  2. Adrienne Ktulin April 16, 2015 10:42 am

    Heather, could you please explain why you would expect these cranes to continue north if the weather was good? I thought they lacked the natural instincts to migrate like many bird species and must be shown a migration route. It seems if they found their way back home, it would change much of what we think we know about them.

    • Heather Ray April 16, 2015 2:03 pm

      We’ve had a number of cranes over the years (since 2001) that have missed migration legs. They have always made it back to the summer range where they took their first flights. Cranes and other precocial species have an affinity to the area where they fledged and the homing instinct is strong.

      • Mindy April 16, 2015 4:25 pm

        Saw a post by OM somewhere that said since the chicks are teenagers, they would not follow an ultralite now. Just curious as to whether that has ever been tried with 11 month old Whoopers? Maybe all the chicks need is a flyover with a brood call going. OM made a wise choice to crate them for southward migration… Is there any possibility that you would take an ultralite and see if they would follow? Know it would be a huge financial strain but making up the gap in their route might be worth it as these birds are an invaluable part of the Eastern flock. Would OM consider doing that?

        • Heather Ray April 17, 2015 4:55 am

          We’ve attempted this is previous years both with Sandhills and Whooping cranes.

          • Mindy April 18, 2015 2:11 pm

            Okay, good to know….thanks Heather

  3. Dora Giles April 16, 2015 9:51 am

    Oh, poor babies. Looks like their return trip home is going to be just as frustrating as their trip to Florida. Certainly hope the weather improves and they are able to continue their trip north. Maybe, hopefully, they will join up with 9-13 and let them lead them on home.


  4. Kay April 16, 2015 9:45 am

    The winds haven’t been very favorable, either. I look at weather wunderground daily. Maybe Saturday????

    This is not a suggestion, just a wondering. I suppose that trikes aren’t “cool” to teenagers since they (I guess) don’t spiral endlessly upwards, eventually taking in the thermals. Has anyone ever tried crating in an experienced crane to lead a cautious little group of inexperienced would-be migrators northward?

    Is 9-13 usually a good migrator?

    As I say, just wondering, while I practice my patience skills.

  5. Mollie Cook April 16, 2015 9:42 am


  6. Mindy April 16, 2015 9:33 am

    Thank you Heather for the update on current positions of the chicks and 9-13. There are a lot of birds stuck along the Gulf coast because of the weather too….