Whooping Cranes Expected in Florida Friday

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St. Marks, FL - The peaceful setting at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge will welcome 5 new friends Friday.

"This is the whooping crane eastern partnership and Operation Migration is leading five of the newest birds down to St. Marks in order to establish a migratory population from Wisconsin to Florida," said Refuge Manager Terry Peacock.

The last time the Cranes were in town was way back in 2010. They had to stop in Alabama last year so the refuge hopes that the public can make it out to see the arrival Friday morning.

"They migrate back on their own so they'll leave here March, April and migrate back on their own, the only time that the public can see the young birds is at the fly over event," said Peacock.

If you want to check out the bird's arrival, all you have to do is head over to San Marcos de Apalache Park in St. Marks, Fl. Officials say to get there no later than 7:30 a.m. on Friday. Go to www.operationmigration.com for more information.

Tallahassee, Florida - November 20, 2012

The weather has been getting cooler and that usually heralds the arrival of our young whooping cranes, migrating south! They have traveled 53 days and over 914 miles from Wisconsin, leaving their summer home on September 28, almost 30 days early! Braving the chilly air and bumpy winds, the intrepid birds and the shivering pilots in the ultralights have skipped a few stops to land in Pike Co., Alabama. They have three more stops to reach Jefferson County, Florida. There, the flock will rest briefly before the final flight to St. Marks. All five young whoopers will spend the winter at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

There are only about 599 whooping cranes in the wild and to view these magnificent birds is a special treat, even if you are not a hardcore birdwatcher. Folks will be able to view the 5 cranes and the ultralights at a flyover event to be staged in the town of St. Marks, Florida on the shores of the beautiful St. Marks River. The exact date in unknown, but refuge staff are guessing they might arrive on Saturday, November 24. If you are interested in participating, please keep an eye on media reports and the website www.operationmigration.org.

Plan on arriving at the flyover site in St. Marks around 8 am ET and the flyover should occur around 8:45 am. Temperatures will be cool, so please dress warmly, bring blankets and chairs. The Operation Migration and the St. Marks Refuge Association will have wonderful crane clothing and books to sell and friendly volunteers will gladly answer all your whooping crane questions.

“It was a disappointment last year when the migration was halted in northern Alabama,” said Refuge Manager Terry Peacock. “This year, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge will be the only Florida refuge to host young cranes and we are excited to be a part of this incredible project to restore a flock of whooping cranes to the eastern United States.”

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