B.A.R.B. at SongStar

Sue and the Whoopers
October 2009
By Sue Tichy

On our recent trip to Wisconsin we took a drive early one morning to Necedah NWR. This is the spot where young whooping crane are trained to fly behind ultra lights for their migration to Florida. We left at 4 a.m. in order to be on the viewing platform before daybreak. It's not 100% that you'll see the whoopers with the ultralights because of wind, weather, and maybe the birds just don't want to fly.

However, we were fortunate. Four ultralights showed up and swooped down on the marsh. The young whoopers started flying behind them in formation! As many a 9 were with one plane and as few as 2 with another. It was usually about 6 or so.  They would get tired or distracted and go back to what they were doing. But after about a half hour of this the ultra lights started flying right over the viewing tower. What an exciting experience for birders and non-birders alike. It was a thrill and one of the highlights of our entire trip.  We also saw Trumpeter Swan and many Sandhill Cranes.

There were four ultralights working the marsh.

Whoopers came up to join their "mother."

It was an amazing experience.
Even though we were very close it was hard to photograph.

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Copyright  2009 by Sue Tichy and Richard L. Becker