Female Whooping crane #26-17 seems to be the first parent-reared bird to start the migration this fall. Based on her last known accomplices and the route she is taking south, we think she is following Peanut (4-14) and his friend, 11-15.
Monday, they left Grand River Marsh in Marquette County, Wisconsin and flew about 170 miles to LaSalle County, Illinois. By yesterday they made over 200 miles and are just north of where Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky meet.
But the last GSM data we got was from 2 pm and it reported her at an altitude of 974 meters, doing 33 knots airspeed on a heading of 174 degrees. They still had three hours to go before the thermals stopped working so who knows where they will end up.
This is a good indication of how much better birds are at migration than we were. Imagine us covering all of Illinois in only two days. Sometimes it took us two months.