Last evening we selected a number from the 428 Chips which have been registered thus far and the winning chip is number 835 – Registered to: Mollie Cook of Arkansas! Mollie will receive an OM prize pack in the mail shortly (pictured below). Congratulations Mollie!

Have you purchased your chip yet? It’s a FUN way to support whooping cranes!

Purchase a 2014 Whooping crane Chip from our Marketplace for $20. Each Chip is individually numbered and contains an alpha/numeric code.

As soon as you receive your Chip in the mail, visit www.coinlogin.org to register your name and email, along with your Chip number and code.

We’ll be holding random draws for some fun items so keep an eye on your inbox.

Once all the Chips are gone, we’ll hold FOUR additional draws:

  • Two for CITGO gas cards, valued at $100 each.
  • $500 CASH
  • A flight back seat with our CEO, Joe Duff as pilot, while he flies in the chase position with the Class of 2014/15 Whooping cranes!

There are only 1000 Chips available, so be sure to order yours soon so you don’t miss out!


Get YOUR Chip Now!

Fred Wasti will receive the OM prize pack pictured below…



Whooping Crane Update, 6 November – 4 December 2014

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, are known to have moved from a previous location or that are long term missing.


Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 97 birds (54 males, 43 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included  40 whooping cranes in Indiana, 10 in Illinois, 8 in Kentucky, 6 in Tennessee, 11 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 6 in Florida, 10 at unknown locations, 1 not recently reported, 1 long term missing, and 1 suspected mortality.

Suspected Mortality

Male no. 5-13 apparently disappeared on or near the St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida, on Thanksgiving night. He is suspected dead but is still included in the population totals above. Efforts are currently underway to locate him.

Captures for transmitter replacements

7 November: no. 29-09

A total of 16 free-flying cranes were captured this fall.

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 and 5-12 were reported at the St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida, on 30 November.

No. 7-12 remained with nos. 3-11, 24-13 and 38-09 in Knox County, Indiana, except for a brief trip north into Greene County on at least 23-25 November. Pair nos. 29-08 and W3-10 joined this group by 18 November and no. 18-09 joined by 23 November.

No. 14-12 remained in LaPorte County, Indiana, until beginning migration on the evening of 30 November or early morning 1 December. He was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 1 December.

No. 16-12 began migration from Monroe County, Wisconsin, on 17 November. He was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 19 November where he remained through at least last check on 2 December.

2013 Cohort

Nos. 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8-13 began migration from Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin on 13 November. Satellite readings indicted roost locations in Iroquois County, Indiana, on 13 November; Wabash County, Illinois, on 14 November; northern Alabama on 17 November and Decatur County, Georgia, on 18 November where they remained until arriving at the St. Marks NWR, Wakulla County, Florida by roost on 21 November. No. 5-13 disappeared from this location on the night of 27 November (see above).

No. 9-13 began migration from Dodge County, Wisconsin, on 13/14 November. Satellite readings placed in him Newton County, Indiana, on 14-20 November; Clinton County, Indiana, on 25-29 November and Lawrence County, Indiana, by roost on 1 December. He was observed at this location with two sandhill cranes on 2 December and continued south to Barren County, Kentucky, the next day.

No. 22-13 began migration from Vermilion/Champaign Counties, Illinois, on 14 November. Satellite reading indicated a roost location in DeKalb County, Tennessee, on 15 and 16 November. He arrived at his previous wintering territory at the Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 17/18 November.

No. 24-13 remained with nos. 3-11, 7-12 and 38-09 in Knox County, Indiana. Pair nos. 29-08 and W3-10 joined this group by 18 November and no. 18-09 joined by 23 November. No. 7-12 briefly left this location (see above).

No. 57-13 remained in Dodge County, Wisconsin, through at least 9 November. He was not detected in the area on 13 November and was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on 19 November.

No. 59-13 was reported at the Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, on 21 November where she remains.

2014 Cohort

Wild-hatched – No. W3-14 remained with her father in Greene County, Indiana, throughout the report period.

Ultralight – Seven juveniles in the ultralight-led cohort departed from the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, Wisconsin on 10 October. On 13 November they were boxed and driven from Dane County, Wisconsin, to the 13th stopover location in Carroll County, Tennessee, where they resumed migration. They are currently located at their 19th stopover in Pike County, Alabama.

Parent-reared – No. 19-14 began migration from near the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, with adult pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 on 12 November. They were reported in Winnebago County, Illinois, that night and remained at least through roost on 16 November, apparently continuing migration on 17 November. Low precision satellite readings from no. 19-14 indicated a roost location in Grayson County, Kentucky, on the night of 18 November. They were photographed on a game camera in Logan County, Kentucky, on the morning of 19 November and continued south on 20 November, arriving on the adults wintering ground in Lowndes County, Georgia, by 22 November. They remain at this location.

No. 20-14 remained with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 in Greene County, Indiana. These three birds have been seen associating with pair nos. 8-04 and 19-05 at this location.

No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period. Pair nos. 24-09 and 42-09 joined this group by 21 November. An additional two Whooping Cranes were observed at this location on 4 December.

No recent reports 

Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin on 22 April. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional.

Long term missing 

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.  To access our previous project updates and additional information on the project visit our web site at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/.

We thank Windway Aviation Corp and pilots Bev Paulan and Michael Callahan (Wisconsin DNR) for aerial tracking assistance. We also thank staff from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Dan Kaiser, Dan Troglin, Rick Houlk, Charles Murray, Mary Emanuel, and John Pohl for tracking assistance.


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Lead Pilot Report

Date: December 3, 2014 Migration Day: 55
Dist. Traveled: 64 miles
Total Dist. 922 miles
Location: Pike County, Alabama



Battling a headwind is like watching paint dry while waiting for water to boil. The GPS ticks off the miles at the same rate you tear pages from a calendar.

Today we repeated yesterday, including the 25 mile per hour ground speed and boxing numbers 4 and 10.

We knew the progress would be slow and we knew it would be warm. Both of these factors take their toll on the birds.  We debated releasing them all together but it was likely that 4 and 10 would loose the battle for the lead to the five that have now found an order they are comfortable with in the air. That would put them at the back of the line where they would have to work the hardest.

I landed first and launched with the five and Brooke took off with the two after we cleared the pen area.

Joe departs Lowndes County, Alabama

Joe departs Lowndes County, Alabama

Within five miles we passed over Richard and volunteer David Boyd in the tracking van. Richard radioed that one of the birds had a large gap in its primary feathers. I looked down the line and sure enough, number 8 was missing two or three feathers on her left side and one was still attached but sticking up like a rudder.

Already she was panting. She moved to my left wing so she was getting lots of benefit from my wake but it was not long until I remembered why I don’t like number 7-14.

She is the lead bird in the group of five. She coasts along, taking all of her lift from my wing and barely flapping her wings while the rest struggle in her wake. Then she starts to mess around, using up the energy she saved. She leads the other birds below the wing or out in front and tires them out even more.

She moved over and stole my left wing from number 8-14 – just for fun. Whenever she was bored she would challenge me and take off out front. I would then have to balance her speed with the slowness of the others so I would let her go but I had to fight the turbulence her wing beads created, making my wing less stable for the back birds.

I know she was doing what nature intended and looking after herself but I couldn’t help putting human values to her intent and being annoyed at her selfishness.

Despite being at the back and doing all the extra work caused by our

Brooke leaves Lowndes County with numbers 4 & 10-14

Brooke leaves Lowndes County with numbers 4 & 10-14.

Despite being at the back and doing all the extra work caused by our Prima Donna bird, still number 8 kept up for the 1 hour and 55 minutes it took us to cover 64 miles. It’s a good thing birds don’t hold grudges like people.

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An anonymous Craniac from Wisconsin was so tickled to see Peanut (#4-14) and Marsha (#10-14) flying the entire migration leg yesterday that she contacted us and would like to issue a “Hooray for Peanut and Marsha” MileMaker Challenge!!!

In honor of them finally getting with the program, she has offered to DOUBLE the next 5 MileMaker miles in any increment. Contribute $50 for a 1/4 mile and it becomes a $100 1/2 mile; Contribute $100 for a 1/2 mile and she will DOUBLE it and make it a FULL mile.

CLICK here to take advantage of this challenge in honor of Peanut & Marsha!

Looks Possible

Conditions this morning are such that we will be putting an aircraft up to check them firsthand.

Winds on the surface are negligible – winds aloft, will dictate whether we can make an attempt to advance to Pike County, AL.

If you’d like to come out to the public flyover location, look for the Baptist church at the corner of county road 21 and Greenlake road, just northeast of the town of Hayneville, Alabama. Please keep in mind that we won’t be making the “GO/NO GO” call until the pilots are in the air.


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Conditions for tomorrow morning are expected to be similar to those we had this morning.

The only difference may be some fog, which would delay a departure. At the very least, once any fog that is present clears, we’ll be putting a test Trike up to check conditions firsthand.

If you’d like to come out to the public flyover location, look for the Baptist church at the corner of county road 21 and Greenlake road, just northeast of the town of Hayneville, Alabama.


Check back in the morning before heading out to see if there are any updates to the weather.

Lead Pilot Report

Date: December 2, 2014 Migration Day: 54
Dist. Traveled: 46 miles
Total Dist. 858 miles
Location: Lowndes County, Alabama


When Einstein supposed that time travel may be possible he suggested that a black hole might warp the time space continuum. He didn’t consider leading birds in an ultralight against a miserable headwind as a way to achieve the same result. For us time did seem to stop this morning, for at least the two hours and one minute it took us to cover 46 miles. And our GPS units confirmed that lapse.

Before takeoff we program the next site into our GPS units. As we fly, it will give us a heading, how fast were are moving over the ground and how long it will take to get there. Just after launch when the birds are at a few hundred feet, the headwinds were negligible but they increased as we climbed.

I would look at the GPS one minute and it would tell me I had an hour and 30 minutes to go. Ten minutes later it was telling me we were 2 hours out.

The temperature was in the low 50’s and was warmer higher up so the birds were feeling the heat. The last three in my line of five had their beaks open and we’re panting for the entire trip.

That makes climbing difficult but the sun was out and starting to create thermals. That warm air was moving up and interfering with our smooth ride. The more the birds have to work to follow the wing, the more energy they use. The higher the temperature, the faster their bodies overheat and the greater the headwind the longer they must fly.

At several times our ground speed was down to 24 mph and when I would look back at the GPS we were still 2 hours out.

Before the birds were released Geoff and Colleen boxed numbers 4 and 10 until the other five birds were on course with me. Then they were released and Brooke took off with them. They didn’t turn back once as he climbed up behind us. This was their first real flight and he managed to get them to 2500 feet.

Every year one bird rises to the top of our favorite list but this year there is one at the bottom of mine. Number 7-14 likes to be lead and she dominates the position right behind the wingtip. She rides along, hardly ever flapping her wings while all the birds behind her have to work progressively harder. But she is never content with the prime position. Instead she likes to screw around. She moves ahead of the wing and destroys the lift on one side making me work to keep from turning constantly. Then she will drop below the wing and fly beside me. But the other birds follow her like good wing men and while she plays with the energy she saved, they struggle to keep up – beaks open and panting all the way.

A little maneuvering and I can get them back into place but then she started pulling on the string that holds in the wingtip batten. I was afraid she would pull it out and I would loose that important part so we had a little battle at 2000 feet. She would swoop in and I would dodge while the other four tried to follow her or me.

By the time we started our descent, Brooke and numbers 4 and 10 were a mile back. I landed but the field was so rough that Brooke just dropped his birds off to me and then he landed near our host’s home.

The birds and I walked to the hiding place and all was fine except I was dressed for cold temperatures at 2000 feet and it was now 70 degrees. Still all the birds flew and we are 46 miles closer to Florida. But time travel is not all it’s cracked up to be.

IMG_6601 IMG_6615 IMG_6639 IMG_6726

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Joe launched with our five faithful flyers and minutes later, Brooke moved into position and launched with cranes 4 & 10-14. They followed him out of the site and south without even glancing back toward the pensite in Chilton County!

We are now in Lowndes County, Alabama – 858 miles into the trip to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

We’ll have our regular lead pilot report a bit later today but in the meantime, here are a couple of photos of the launch.

Joe Duff departs Chilton County, AL with cranes 2, 3, 5, 7 & 8-14. Photo: Heather Ray

Joe Duff departs Chilton County, AL with cranes 2, 3, 5, 7 & 8-14. Photo: Heather Ray

Brooke Pennypacker leaves with our until now, reluctant followers: 4 & 10-14 (note that number 4-14 is leading!). Photo: Heather Ray

Brooke Pennypacker leaves with our until now, reluctant followers: 4 & 10-14 (note that number 4-14 is leading!). Photo: Heather Ray

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