UNDATED, WI (WTAQ) - All but two of the 12 whooping cranes that left Wisconsin earlier this fall have arrived at their winter migration homes in Florida.
Five cranes showed up at the Saint Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge during the Thanksgiving weekend. Five others are at a second location in Hendry County Florida.
This is the earliest that the cranes have arrived in Florida in the 12 years of the migration project, which is aimed at boosting the numbers of endangered whooping cranes in the Eastern U.S.
The first group of six cranes left Green Lake County on September 28th and were guided by an ultra-light pilot.
One of the birds died in northern Illinois after breaking her left femur. The second group left the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County in late October – and for the first time, adult cranes that previously made the trip guided the baby birds without the help of an aircraft.
The sixth bird in that group remains at a refuge in Pulaski County Indiana.
As a result of the migration effort, an estimated 115 cranes are in the wild throughout the eastern part of North America.